Australian Department Store Tells the Sweet Christmas Tale of an Expat Gingerbread Man

Stories about gingerbread men tend not to end happily. As a rule, you can expect to be heartbroken in advance. Which should emotionally harden you like a cookie left out on the table too long, except often it doesn’t, because who can resist those little cream-drop eyes?

So we like to avoid such narratives as often as possible.

But as the shadow of the holidays imposes itself, we’re inevitably going to slam into some stuff that grabs our heartstrings and tugs us, kicking and screaming, toward December.

Australian department store David Jones’ Christmas entry is one such work. Created by TBWA Sydney, “Now It Feels Like Christmas” follows a prodigal gingerbread man as he embarks on the kind of backpacking adventure people have in college, all while gathering gifts for the fam back home.

Our edible hero takes selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower, gazes into the lights of New York City from a taxi, rides the back of chicken trucks, paddles downriver and roasts marshmallows over bonfires, with nothing to his name but a tiny suitcase. (How does he fit all those gifts inside?)

Because he’s obviously a tasty treat, there is danger. A dog mauls him and he literally falls to pieces, scattered alongside the contents of his valise—dissonantly cheery in these circumstances. Guess Mom won’t be getting that Chanel No. 5 after all. (In any case, is there anything worse than perfume on a cookie? They are already perfumed … with deliciousness.)

Luckily, a kindly confection-maker stumbles upon him and puts him back together, then sends him home buried in chocolates. Everyone is thrilled and delighted! A festive reunion takes place within what is actually a David Jones store window, where children come to gather and watch.

This story ends happily—for now. Nobody trusts kids.

This tale of an expatriated gingerbread man echoes the plight of thousands of Australians abroad, who yearn for the embraces and warmer clime of home. It also teases the unveiling of David Jones’ anticipated Christmas window display on Elizabeth Street in Sydney.

“We wanted to give David Jones a campaign worthy of their iconic Australian brand stature,” says TBWA Sydney chief creative officer Andy DiLallo. “Christmas is a magical time of year, and this is a charming story that will connect with Australians of all ages.”

The Expat Gingerbread Man will be brought to life at the David Jones Bakery in its Market Street store, Bondi Junction, Wollongong and Bourke Street food halls. A charity version will also appear in all stores, including online, with profits going to the brand’s charity partner, The Smith Family.

A concurrent gift-giving campaign will curate local and international goods to help customers choose gifts. (Think of it as the opposite of Harvey Nichols’ “I Spent It On Myself.”) Executions will feature online—via social and affiliate sites—and in print.

“We’re proud to have been a destination for Australians who love Christmas for 179 years,” beams CEO David Thomas of David Jones. “This year’s campaign aims to capture the role we play in an Australian Christmas, while also celebrating the importance of family and friends during the festive season. We hope it brings to life the excitement and joy of Christmas.”

The campaign is now live throughout Australasia. Find vestiges of it online, within the David Jones catalog, in-store and via direct marketing.

from Ad Week: