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Undisputed Kings of Christmas

JD Sports

Christmas is all about creating a magical, mystical world of your own

JD is a truly Great-British sports retailer, the 'Undisputed King of Trainers', supplying the latest and greatest in branded street style for over 30 years. Like all retailers, Christmas is the key trading period for JD, and the time when the brand delivers a great range of products for its millions of loyal customers. Christmas is also the most competitive time of year for retailers, almost the British equivalent of the superbowl for advertisers, so it was crucial to the JD team that they deliver a distinctive campaign that would engage their audience and keep the JD brand top of their Christmas Shopping Lists. Being proudly rooted in Greater Manchester, our client especially wanted to work with the best local talent. So they talked to us. We're proud too: to have been involved in such an ambitious, action packed project and to have delivered it entirely in-house. Furthermore, JD were happy to report, like-for-like sales showing double-digit growth in the 5 week period to January 2nd.

Creating a world for products to live in

For JD Sports, product is king. So we developed a concept that would not only showcase outfits and footwear, but also add an eye-catching, unexpected twist to help them stand out amongst a plethora of Christmas messages. Armed with a thorough understanding of both audience and brand, we designed a number of christmas inspired CG environments with playful objects that the models could interact with to highlight the product.

Developing the look

We developed a virtual environment based upon the theme of winter wonderland: a world part abstract, part real, using a combination of CG with green screen filming, all made in Manchester. The overall clean, white and wintry environment was punctuated by metallic gold ‘props’ such as baubles that turned into music speakers. The models interacted by stopping or sitting on them, jumping off plinths and pulling dance moves. The pure backdrop also allowed us to give each of the three core commercials a different personality. Menswear had an angular feel, while womenswear had a softer, rounded look. For kids, we used blocky elements echoing computer games from tetris to minecraft.




The shoot

The commercials were shot using 4K technology (with 4 times the detail of current HD) over 5 days in JD Sports’ studio at The Sharp Project in Manchester. Props included turntables, blocks, plinths and trampolines (with a Phantom camera shooting 1000 frames-per-second for a floating-on-air effect) for the live-action footage.

Crafting the CG world

Creating a virtual 3D world around live-action takes planning and forethought. It's also an extremely technical process, involving 3D camera tracking and scanning to match movement, the creation of 3D background plates and elements, plus keying and compositing to achieve seamless integration. As ever, the devil was in the detail. Adding depth effects like snow, mist and sparkle, retouching, ‘bedding in’ contact points as feet hit the ground (naturally important for footwear brands) and colour correcting so products really stood out – all contributed to the incredible realism of the finished film.

Shot Breakdown

The wider world

JD Sports had originally asked us to create a virtual world to help their commercials stand out. But that same world also crossed over into outdoor media, in-store POS and the JD Sports website. It gave them a strong, distinctive look that showcased leading brands across their whole Christmas campaign - and no doubt helped add their name to many a Christmas shopping list.

"I am delighted to report that the exceptional performance in the year to date has continued during the key Christmas period. Like-for-like sales in its core Sports Fashion chain jumped by 10.6% in the five weeks to 2 January."

Peter Cowgill quoted in the M.E.N.