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This week, reusable bottle brand Chilly's enlisted the talents of Uncommon and Biscuit Filmworks' director Aaron Stoller to launch their very first TV campaign, boldly bringing the spot out in the dense Christmas period.

Telling the cheeky tale of a fella who may have over-thought (and overstepped the mark in creating) his father-in-law's pressie, the ad combined Uncommon's ability to throw a delicious curveball alongside Stoller's comedic talents behind the camera.

Fast-paced, funny and distinctly lacking the saccharine sentiment of many holiday spots, we thought the film and accompanying OOH executions were a blast, so sat down with James Butterfield, Founder & Managing Director at Chilly’s, Nils Leonard, Co-founder at Uncommon and Biscuit director Stoller to chat about how they set about cutting through at Christmas.

Chilly's – Gift Responsibly

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James Butterfield - Founder & Managing Director, Chilly’s

What was it about Uncommon that made them a good agency partner?

When choosing our first creative agency we were really looking for partners who could deliver campaigns and ideas that will work on a global scale, but without the large agency feel. Uncommon is such a good fit for us as they are still at the beginning of their journey, and looking to make really game changing work. 

We also wanted to work with a team that aren't afraid to do something a bit different, and Uncommon certainly aren't! 

Uncommon's interest in sustainability was also a real draw, such as the creation of Origin coffee and their work with OVO.

Were you happy to go with such a cheeky idea? Not tempted by more traditional festive fare?

We knew we needed an idea that would stand out and we had no interest in making an advert telling people how many plastic bottles end up in the ocean or in landfill. 

We all felt we were on to an idea that would really cut through the Christmas ad noise, even if it was a bit odd.

Our customers know all that and we wanted something that challenged people's expectations of a Christmas advert just like we are challenging people to think differently about using reusables.

Were many changes needed along the way?

Surprisingly no! We explored a few creative routes at first but the ideas we ultimately went with were presented very early on in the process and required only slight refining tweaks throughout the process. 

We all felt we were on to an idea that would really cut through the Christmas ad noise, even if it was a bit odd. We however knew that for the idea's to work and feel like the Chilly's brand, we would need the execution to be excellent which through Uncommon and the creative partners they utilised we couldn't be happier with the end results!

Can we expect a bigger TV presence from you guys in 2020?

The response so far has been fantastic and we have reached existing customers who have seen us express our brand in a whole new way and totally new audiences who may never have heard of Chilly's that may struggle to forget us after our Christmas advert.

We have reached existing customers who have seen us express our brand in a whole new way and totally new audiences who may never have heard of Chilly's that may struggle to forget us after our Christmas advert.

What's the best gift you've ever handed out at Christmas?

We have a huge team who work in our warehouse who are the true heroes at Christmas. They pick and pack all our orders and do everything to ensure people get their Chilly's Christmas gifs on time. 

Last year we sent everyone working in the warehouse a bottle of prosecco and a box of chocolates to thank them for their amazing work! We will certainly be doing that again this year as without them we couldn't do what we do.

...and what's the best you've received?

It has to be my first mobile phone (Nokia 3310 obviously) from my uncle one Christmas. I had begged my parents for a mobile phone but they just would not budge! My uncle stepped in and saved the day. 

I can't remember what year this was but definitely a couple of years after everyone else had the 3310!

Nils Leonard - Co-founder, Uncommon Creative Studio

This is the first TV work you've made for Chilly's and it's coming out at a pretty competitive time. How did you plan to stand out from the crowd?

You expect a company like Chilly’s to make some work around sustainability, so instead we made work around creepy gifting insights, kidnapping and ASMR mixtapes made from crying. 

Which is also at odds with most Christmas work.

What was the proposition from Chilly’s? Brand awareness? To sell more bottles? To be this year's Buzz Lightyear?!

Chilly’s wanted to win gifting, and they are the perfect present. So we took that to a level.

The one thing we also wanted to do was really land this idea of Gift Responsibly.

But also to give the brand some of the character that the excellent people that founded it have in spades.

How long did it take to nail the concept? Was there much back and forth?

There was a bit of back and forth but we all wanted something that didn’t feel worthy, and we all liked the over-thought thing. 

The one thing we also wanted to do was really land this idea of Gift Responsibly. The idea that a Chilly’s bottle is a perfect no brainer present, but more importantly, is also a responsible choice given it will stop you using rank plastic water bottles. The campaign will grow from here. 

The outdoor and print is one example, taking the thought to other levels with craft.

Above: Nils Leonard


What made you go for Aaron to shoot it? What was it about his work that you thought would suit this film?

Aaron has this wicked way to underplay humour. And casts like a demon.

How's it being rolled out? Who are you trying to hit in particular?

Anyone bored of wistful, rounded Christmas cack.

Charlotte Leonard bought me a Big Green Egg. If you like food, they are everything.

What's the best gift you've ever handed out at Christmas?

I don’t know. But the worst gift I got someone was a withered pot plant from a BP garage on that morning. 

I am an awful son.

...and what's the best you've received?

Charlotte Leonard bought me a Big Green Egg. If you like food, they are everything.

Aaron Stoller - Director, Biscuit Filmworks

When did you get involved in the Chilly's project? 

August 14th, 2004.  

The spot is a bit cheekier than your average festive fare - what was it that attracted you to the project?  

After reading the script I called Rupert [Reynolds-MacLean, Biscuit MD] immediately and said we had to make this.  

We were fortunate enough to have an amazing client, agency and crew with impeccable taste all in alignment...which made for some smooth shooting. 

The opportunity to make something that smells like the holidays we’ve all experienced... not the one that every retailer is trying to stuff down our throats... is pretty exciting. 

How long was the shoot? Did you encounter any issues? 

We shot it all in one long day.  

We were fortunate enough to have an amazing client, agency and crew with impeccable taste all in alignment...which made for some smooth shooting. 

Above: Aaron Stoller.


What was your favourite moment of the shoot? 

There were a lot. Directing the makeout scene with Grandma, except she kept insisting on more takes...I had to pull the plug after the 33rd.  

Stuffing tiny French Thom Yorke in a trunk was fun too. 

What's your favourite moment in the film? 

Grandma's reaction after finding out that she was used to cross reference the DNA. New love is so harsh sometimes. 

Stuffing tiny French Thom Yorke in a trunk was fun.

The spot has some pretty tight editing in order to recount the story in a restricted timeframe - how was that process?  

We all felt that his flashbacks should be a full on assault, so it was shot with the quick pace in mind.  

What's the best gift you've ever handed out at Christmas?

The year was 2002 and I had just started dating my lovely wife and I needed a gift for her Dad and I absolutely nailed it.

If you want a wonderfully awkward moment, give a 65 year old man who doesn’t like human beings or like to be touched a gift certificate for a Thai massage in the local strip mall.   

The look on his face was priceless.  

Actually, more insulted than priceless. 

Anyway, years later I learned that he thought I bought him a Happy Ending.  

...and what's the best you've received?

Puppies. 

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