Each year, for the last decade, UK department store chain John Lewis & Partners has launched a heart-warming holiday advert that, in many ways, signals the start of the holiday season in Britain. Traditionally, these are emotionally resonant spots designed to get people in the celebratory (and shopping) spirit. Tellingly, according to Campaign, no John Lewis spot in the last 8 years has ranked higher on the emotional scale than Adam & Eve/DDB's timeless tale, 'The Bear and the Hare'. This 2-minute animal kingdom animation is Hornet director Yves Geleyn at the top of his game—a proud representation of the type of delicate, patient care he puts into his work—and it's also one downright feel-good story about friendship and festive cheer.
Directors Yves Geleyn, Elliot Dear
Agency Adam & Eve/DDB
Client John Lewis
Production companies Hornet, Blinkink
2D animation Premise Entertainment
Character designer Aaron Blaise
2D animation supervisors Aaron Blaise, Dominic Carola
Executive producers Bart Yates, James Stevenson Bretton, Josephine Gallagher
Line producer Kev Harwood
Production manager Benjamin Lole
Production designer John Lee
DoP Toby Howell
Lead stop-frame animator Andy Biddle
Editors Sam Sneade, Ellie Johnson, Speade
Sound Sam Robson, Factory
Colourist Jean-Clement Soret, MPC
Post-production Blinkink Studios
Executive creative directors Ben Priest, Ben Tollett, Emer Stamp
Creative directors Aidan McClure, Laurent Simon
Producer Anthony Falco
Assistant producer Catherine Cullen
Managing partner Tammy Einav
Business director Miranda Hipwell
Account manager Caroline Grayso
There once was an animal who had never seen Christmas. As autumn winds turn to winter snow, the bear begins his annual retreat into hibernation to sleep his way through the best part of the year. The festive spirit is strong though, and his friend, the hare, is determined to give him a gift he has never received before — Christmas.
Featuring Lily Allen's acoustic rendition of Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know", the heartstrings are well and truly pulled by the time we find out just how the hare actually gets the bear to trade in his lonely cave for a communal spot around the animal kingdom Christmas tree.
The scale of the project, and the innovative combination of animated techniques involved in creating it, are unprecedented. The marriage of traditional hand-drawn 2D animation with stop-frame model animation creates a tangible world full of texture and detail that conveys the honesty behind the John Lewis Christmas message.
Yves Geleyn is a storyteller to his core. He possesses not just a wide range of creative styles and techniques, but also a profound devotion to exposing the small truths that make any story worth telling. For him, technique functions to support the story, not the other way around.
Luckily, Yves is a true master of both. He has a giant toolbox of techniques, but his innate instinct for unearthing the finer details is what makes his work so powerful.
Maybe it's because the details of his own story are so interesting in themselves. Yves was born to a German mother and a French father. His childhood was defined by a mosaic of moveable homes and travels, growing up in Britain, France, Germany, plus adventures around the world. His world was an empty canvas, where he was able to funnel his curiosity—arguably Yves' most defining personality trait—into whatever inkblot-shape his passions du jour led him to. He attended rugby school. He attended culinary school. Eventually, he discovered the world of graphic design and motion graphics and fine art.
Yves is a self-admitted perfectionist. From start to finish, he’s hands-on. By intimately knowing everything possible about a subject matter, he’s able to create an almost subterranean story below the main narrative—something not everyone can see at first, but that they can feel in the finished work. And the finished work has a simple, sweet, timeless quality - like poetry.
Over the years, Yves has directed numerous short films and commercial campaigns that have earned him industry awards and major international recognition. His work Monster in the Closet explored the subject of safe gun storage with a powerful and haunting story. His 2014 holiday spot for UK retailer John Lewis, The Bear and The Hare, took the festival circuit by storm and still receives applause from all sides of the industry to this day. His 60-second spot for McDonald’s, Always Working, was aptly indicative of Yves’ quest for perfectionism; he and his team of fifty people spent 12 intensive weeks to bring the spot to life. The 2017 short for Cabrioni was a feel-good tale that showcased Yves’ ability to weave together multiple animation techniques. And his work for Frooti was a testament to his ability to create an entire story from scratch and turn it into a colorful universe all his own, yet relatable to all.