Whirling around a cinematically beautiful 19th and 20th century England, South Africa and Europe, the latest Christmas campaign by Burberry is more an epic trailer for a historic dramatisation of the luxury English brand’s founder than a TVC. It’s an action-packed musing on what Thomas Burberry might have been.
Directed by acclaimed English filmmaker Asif Kapadia, the film is over three-minutes of blockbuster traits; including brooding skies, childhood memories, a betrayed lover and a party to rival The Great Gatsby’s.
Starting from his invention of the tightly woven fabric gabardine, which is still used by the brand today, the film preview whips around a brooding hero’s complicated life. Although the love triangle between himself, Sienna Miller’s character and a fictional pilot are imagined, there are glimpses of stranger-than-fiction history lessons drawn from the Burberry archives.
The pilot played by Lily James, of Downtown Abbey, resembles real-life explorer Betty Kirby-Green in both grace and style – and she did in fact wear Burberry clothing in a plane sponsored by the fashion label, when completing a record-breaking trip from England to Capetown and back again, in an early form of product placement promotion. A gruff Ernest Sheckleton also makes an appearance, played convincingly by The Wire’s Dominic West, who wore his Burberry while traversing Antarctica.
Amazingly, the flashing images of shell-shocked WWI are a tribute to the half a million soldiers dressed in light, waterproof Burberry outwear that gives its famous trench coat its name.
Billy Weasley from Harry Potter, a.k.a Domhnall Gleeson, plays Mr Burberry, with a much more sympathetic portrayal than the actual old-world photographs of the founder once he grew a distinguished white beard and flicked mustache.
The film was introduced on Facebook as “160 years in the making, a story inspired by the life and pioneering discoveries of our founder, re-imagining key events that have shaped Burberry’s history”. This was followed by a chatbot that gets customers to interact with the story.
Through Facebook messenger, fans of the trailer can find out more about Burberry’s discoveries and love interests as well as finding beauty tips from the ball scene and shopping a curated selection of Christmas gift ideas from the film.