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H&M taps Wes Anderson for holiday spot in viral attempt

H&M has called on top-level talent for its holiday promotion this year, releasing a video directed by Wes Anderson that does not skimp on the director?s patent dollhouse aesthetic and whimsy. 

Visually, the ad looks remarkably like Mr. Anderson?s 2007 film The Darjeeling Limited, and is the latest commercial offering for the writer/director, who has worked with brands including IKEA. In approaching the Oscar-nominated filmmaker to helm the campaign, H&M contributes to the elevation of the mobile marketing palate on a platform where many users are already viewing high quality films. 

?One takeaway from the mini-trend of retailers hiring marquee directors to produce conceptual and stylized ad content is that consumers don't respond to generic ?product and price? ads the way we once did,? said James McNally, director of digital strategy at TDT, New York. ?Consumers will continue to spend time absorbing brand messaging, but we're increasingly expecting that this messaging provide us some legitimate value?entertainment?as well.  

?Ad spot status quo is changing in many ways, but one crucial way is that consumers now need to be incentivized to consume it?otherwise we are simply not going to watch."

Big name talent
The spot, called Come Together, features many parallels with The Darjeeling Limited, including a preoccupation with trains and a diverse cast, which includes another big name that starred in the latter: Adrien Brody. 

In the video, Mr. Brody, who works on a train delayed during Christmastime, undertakes the unfortunate task of informing all of the passengers that their holiday plans will most likely be postponed, or possibly ruined. 

The video is chock full of Anderson idiosyncrasies?lush interior design, children in starring roles and even a hurried conversation with a muffled voice over the phone. And, with a sly touch of bravura typically foreign to brand campaigns, each character is shown with a photo of a loved one, an emblem of longing in the holiday season; our view of the H&M Express almost resembles an advent calendar through Mr. Anderson?s aperture.

Come Together is primo Anderson, perhaps even to H&M?s detriment: besides a few title cards with brand images, there is scant mention of the retailer?s holiday offerings besides an assumed contribution to the spot?s wardrobe. However, the level of brand exposure (at time of writing, the spot was the hottest trending video on YouTube) should more than compensate.

?H&M may not have mandated a product-heavy storyboard to Wes Anderson, but there clearly was an understanding about the type of piece he was being commissioned for,? Mr. McNally said. ?The piece does include H&M branding, and ultimately the tactical objectives are to immerse viewers in an H&M-inspired holiday mind state, to rehash one of Anderson's most recognizable tropes, and to attempt to imbue H&M with some of Anderson's twee, hipster, fashion-forward visual identity.?

Come Together
Within one day, Mr. Anderson?s video has already gone viral on social media, while somewhat satiating casual fans? desire for his follow up to 2014?s The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

A slight resurgence of the auteur vision is underway this holiday season: American workwear purveyor Carhartt introduced its Fall lineup with a commercial produced and directed by Jason Momoa that features all the slick production value to which the former Game of Thrones actor is accustomed (see story). 

?Are these mini ?film? commercials by big name directors worth it for retailers?? Mr. McNally said. ?It's a definite maybe.

?Just several hours after release, H&M's commercial has media and ad people buzzing, and any consumer who invests four minutes watching it will likely find it amusing and appropriately twee, but in pure ROI terms, there?s a definite ?is it worth it?? here; production values were likely high, and it can be risky to invest heavily in a single piece of highly stylized creative. 

?Ultimately though, brands like H&M have budget to have creatives like Anderson produce authentically delightful commercial content, so why shouldn't they? Especially if the alternative is simply a greater volume of generic video spots promoting fast fashion for cheap.?