Aardman Stars Bring Fashion Fun To TK Maxx

TK Maxx

Comic Relief - Red Nose Day


One British institution – Aardman Animations – meets another – Comic Relief – in TK Maxx’s fun new ad promoting its unique range of Red Nose Day clothing. With Comic Relief now happening every year, it has the potential to become another fixture in the branding calendar, and brands that link up with the charity have a golden opportunity to entertain audiences and promote themselves at the same time.

For clothing retailer TK Maxx, a Comic Relief link-up helps them build on their successful series of Christmas ads in which various farm animals parade around in festive knitwear, to the farmer’s astonishment and audiences’ delight. Those ads position TK Maxx as a fun, quirky, family-oriented brand in a category (clothing retail) often dominated by brands trying to outdo one another with the latest fads or celebrity cameos.

Of course, Aardman Animations’ line-up of familiar faces – Wallace And Gromit, Shaun The Sheep, and Morph – are celebrities of a kind too. At System1 we call them “hired devices” – much-loved characters who can lend familiarity and entertainment value to an ad in a similar way to brand-owned Fluent Devices.

But like any celebrity, you have to use those characters in the right way to get the most out of them. Celebrities work best in ads when the commercial uses them to be exaggerated versions of themselves, doing the things they’re famous for. With only 30 seconds screen time to play with, there’s no point in confusing the audience or wasting their time.

TK Maxx provide a good example of this. What are Wallace and Gromit known for? Bizarre inventions and a love of tea. What are they doing here? Building a machine and getting “tea” confused with “T-Shirt” – a perfect use of a hired asset. The cameos from Shaun and Morph are the icing on the animated cake.

At the same time, the ad isn’t overusing its hired devices. This is the other risk you run by using familiar faces – they can crowd out the information you’re trying to get over, or the brand itself. That isn’t a problem here. After the initial laugh, the focus is squarely on the Aardman clothing line, so the ad performs well on short-term Spike Rating as well as landing a strong 4.4-Star Rating for long-term growth.

Within the context of the Fashion category that’s an excellent result, a full 2-Stars above the category average and within the Top 10 of all Fashion ads on Star Rating. Most ads in the category underperform emotionally because they’re so transactional – focusing entirely on the newest product. It’s the nature of the sector – but TK Maxx’s tie-in with Comic Relief and Aardman is a great example of a brand breaking free from that convention and entertaining audiences as well as selling.

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