By Brinley Knopf
Burberry’s merry, bright, dramatized historical ad for their 2016 holiday ad campaign—serving as a shiny commemoration for the brand’s 160th anniversary—is at once a fictitious narrative of love, war, dreams, and enterprise. The ad isn’t quite an ad at all but more of a trailer for a period piece biopic following institutor Thomas Burberry, who is touted as a thoughtful brooder, an intellect with great fabric acumen, and a man of very dapper good looks. In a short 3-minute trailer, we see Burberry invent his famous waterproof gabardine, fall in love, dress soldiers for WWI in his illustrious trench coat, ensnare himself in a predictable but beloved love triangle, and live on to fashion his namesake’s legacy.
The cast is a striking British ensemble: Burberry himself is played by actor Domhnall Gleeson, Sienna Miller is tapped to play The Girl in the Rain—Burberry’s fictive first love—alongside actress Lily James, the face of Burberry, as Betty Johnson, a fictional revision of early revolutionary female pilot Betty Kirby-Green/The Other Woman. Finishing off the cast, Dominic West fills the role of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the polar explorer who endorsed Burberry’s gabardine for three expeditions into the Antarctic.
Burberry’s latest and greatest holiday ad “The Tale of Thomas Burberry” doesn’t disappoint—only in the sense that it’s a trailer for a movie that will never be, which makes one cry, as anyone with a period piece-loving heart is won’t to do. Oscar-winning director Asif Kapadia and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Matt Charman bring the short film to life on a grand scale with beautiful production values, none-too-subtle product placing, every film trope known to man, and historical significance that could only make for the Next Best Rom Com around.
Your father can imagine a whole world in his head, says Sienna Miller, and a collective chorus of dreamy sighs abound from all over as everyone wonders why they have a weird crush on Thomas Burberry.