Two years of Christmas ads tell two stories of the Burberry brand and how head designer Riccardo Tisci is beginning to strike a balance between old and new.
When Riccardo Tisci joined Burberry he was tasked with bringing the brand into the age of streetwear. He messed with the fonts and changed the logos, going above and beyond to drag what is perhaps the most heritage-y of heritage brands into today’s industry. Burberry’s 2020 Christmas ad illustrates where the designer has landed after 2 years as chief creative officer.
In order to create big change Tisci went maximal, aggressively throwing Burberry into streetwear by overlaying the classic tartan and British cuts with the casual and street heavy trends of the late 2010’s. He introduced new intricate patterns that recalled the classic Scottish regalia and pushed the envelope of British tailoring to appease a more casual audience, all while balancing the bread and butter of Burberry: the trench, the tartan and the British-cut. While the efforts were marginally successful, Burberry’s heritage felt like a weight holding Tisci’s vision down. Neither could he escape the staples that defined the brand and kept finances afloat, nor could he fully commit the brand’s consumer to a young, flashy lifestyle. The brand felt stuck in between.
And so Tisci trudged on, uneasy, between the stubbornly stationary past and the rapidly moving future, and produced ads that reflected the same. Last year’s Christmas advert, entitled “Close Your Eyes and Think of Christmas” by Juno Calypso, was a triumph to a fashion lover or marketer. It was edgy, simple, highly produced and reeked of creative vision (it doesn’t get better than an upside-down aerial shot of Naomi Campbell and her mother in head-to-toe tartan - beret included). It also checked a myriad of boxes: celebrity cameos, great direction, incredible sound mixing, callbacks to the brand’s British roots and a spectrum of places Burberry fits in naturally, from diners to Christmas tea. However, the subtlety of the spot and the highly produced visuals reflecting fashion’s present didn’t lend to the ad’s marketability, celebrity endorsements notwithstanding.
2020 tells a different story for Burberry and shows the balance that Tisci has been able to strike between the new and the old. Again staying away from overt Christmas themes, “It’s about that fearless spirit and imagination when pushing boundaries,” a Tisci quote and the name of this year’s spot, features four dancers avoiding giant hail as they navigate London streets to a new rendition of “Singing In The Rain.” Joyful and lively, our dancers make a compelling case for a Burberry landing squarely in the ‘cool’ category.
Visually interesting in a more palatable fashion, the spot feels younger and more casual. What the ad lacks in offbeat and cool creativity, it makes up in a balance that honors the past and looks to the future. The clothes feel young and draw the eye. The styling is bold and risky while familiar styles, materials and cuts keep the clothes relatable.
It seems after two years of hard work, Tisci has maneuvered Burberry into a sort of equilibrium where both streetwear and tartans are just a few toe taps away.