Football’s Festive Featurettes: Peterborough mascot finds love

The quintessential Christmas advertisement has become as much a part of the festive ritual as a tree decorated in lights or a wreath hanging on the front door.

Each year without fail, the British public wait with baited breath for the John Lewis commercial to make its debut and more recently, football and other sporting clubs have hopped on the bandwagon, producing their own festive featurettes.

Insider Sport is looking back at past Christmas campaigns produced by football clubs to market their merchandise stores in the run up to the big day.

The use of the club mascot in Christmas advertisements has become a popular method to market retail outlets.

Next up, Peterborough United’s ‘Make it a Posh Christmas’ from 2014 stars Peter Burrow, the club’s bunny rabbit champion, alongside Posh Marketing Executive Neil Gilby’s schoolboy son and Posh fan, James Gilby.

Six years ago, the League One club produced their own advertisement, inspired by department store John Lewis and supermarket Sainsbury’s respective advertisements from the same year.

The video captures Peter Burrow’s friendship with the young Posh supporter as they spend every waking moment together. They watch Bugs Bunny cartoons together, play hide and seek in the park and the young supporter even sneaks the mascot his carrots at dinner time.

One afternoon, whilst taking a stroll through the park, Peter Burrow spots a happy couple sitting on a nearby bench. He feels a pang of jealousy at the sight and pines for a companion of his own.

The following day, his friend and Posh supporter James takes him to the club store, blindfolded with a Peterborough scarf. He leads him inside the shop and when he removes the scarf from around his awkwardly large ears, there stands another bunny rabbit mascot before him.

As the two characters embrace, off in the background, James can be seen playing with two plush toy versions of the mascots, mimicking their actions. The video finishes with a graphic advertisement for the soft toys, priced at £12.00 each.

Backing vocals for the campaign were provided by the Peterborough Cathedral Choir, who recorded their own take of the Beatles and Tom Odell’s ‘Real Love’.

The video was even picked up by ITV, which featured the campaign on ITV News Anglia’s evening show.

“It was a group effort,” James’ father and club employee Neil told the broadcaster. “A lot of us sat round in the office, trying to think of something that we could put out there for the fans. We’d obviously seen the John Lewis advert, and so the decision was made to make a parody of it.”

Striker Aaron McClean, who had not long since joined the club, played the role of the retail assistant behind the counter in the John Lewis-esque advert.

He commented: “I’d just signed that day, so I was in and around the ground, and they just asked me if I’d do a little cameo in the video. The first couple of takes I just couldn’t take it seriously because I thought they were trying to wind me up, but it’s come out really well!”