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Kiwi touch to UK retail giant’s magic Christmas

Media release
20 November 2012

Kiwi touch to UK retail giant’s magic Christmas

The annual pre-Christmas television ad for John Lewis – a UK high street retail giant – is tugging at viewers’ heartstrings with the help of Kiwi production expertise and slices of New Zealand replicating wintery Britain.

The tale of a snowman on a mission to find the perfect gift has hit UK screens in the lead-up to the Christmas shopping bonanza. In Britain, the snowman is distinctly associated with Christmas, following the much-loved Raymond Briggs book The Snowman and the UK Christmas 1982 release of the Academy Award-nominated animated film of the same name.

The 2012 John Lewis Christmas television commercial (TVC) features a flock of merino sheep, six-year-old New Zealand actress Georgia Haskell, a historic Otago miner’s cottage, central Auckland cityscapes transformed to look like London in winter and complete with black cab and red phone boxes. Some quintessential South Island high country scenery – as a substitute for rural Britain –completes the suite of backdrops.

Called The Journey, the $11.5 million production was created by UK advertising agency Adam & Eve DDB and UK producers Blink, which used Auckland-based production company Robber’s Dog for five days’ filming in downtown Auckland and the South Island in July – the northern hemisphere summer.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development’s sector team Film Auckland facilitated the production’s local requirements. Film Auckland manager Michael Brook says the John Lewis TVC is another example of Auckland attracting overseas productions due to its screen industry’s expertise and easy access to outstanding range of adaptable and relevant locations around New Zealand.

“It is exciting to have major and influential exposure for local companies such as Robber’s Dog, which have world-class skills and a Kiwi can-do attitude on shoots which impresses international producers,” says Michael Brook.

Robber’s Dog Executive Producer Mark Foster says: “We think it’s brilliant the TVC has been so well received by so many! It was a pleasure working with Blink and Adam & Eve, and an honor to be able to introduce them to the best of New Zealand’s film industry.”

Caz Hearn, Robber’s Dog Line Producer says the story required snowy landscapes, a British-looking house and shopping street.

“Our fantastic location scouts Clayton Tikao and David Walker were able to find all of this from Auckland and Queenstown. A mild winter and freak rain meant all the lovely snow we saw on the recce was noticeably absent on the shoot. Thanks to the local expertise of our art department, and special effects and technicians, we managed to fill in the gaps,” says Caz Hearn.

“We were also able to find the perfect ‘hero’ girl locally. Georgia Haskell was discovered after a long and intensive search. She did a great job and is testament to the depth of talent we have in New Zealand.”

Television commercial production, many with international companies, is a key contributor to Auckland’s screen industry, which is an increasingly important economic sector – employing more than 6000 people in 1440 local businesses. In 2011, Auckland’s screen sector generated gross revenues of $2.297 billion (77 per cent of the national gross screen industry revenues).

Michael Brook says New Zealand is a go-to location for northern hemisphere production companies wanting to film scenes set in the opposite seasons.

To view the John Lewis TVC go to:


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