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By Bo Roberts-Leung, Creative Director

The holidays have come and gone – and with it came (and went) a lot of holiday videos. Some were great. Some we’re happy to forget. And although we’re knee deep in an “out with the old, in with the new” mindset, it always helps to take a look at what exactly went into some of those big holiday spots we saw all season.

“How much does a video cost?” is the most common question we get. So, we’ve asked video creators to identify a video they like & let us know what they thought it would cost to produce. The only catch: IT’S NOT THEIR VIDEO (so all posts are merely an estimate by each video creator on what they thought a similar video might cost). Enjoy the series! 

Coming out with a bang and large dose of holiday heartstring manipulation is Sainsbury’s 2014 Christmas spot. Possibly even more ambitious than last years’ full 45 minute Oscar Directed mega ad, immediately the viewer is struck by the high end production value that went into this short. This holiday, Sainsbury attempts to re-enact the 1914 Christmas Day cease fire where British and German soldiers meet, greet and engage in a game of footy; oh, and exchange Sainsbury chocolate of course.

Let me preface this article with the acknowledgment that I have never personally quoted a project of this scale, but given the polarizing reaction from war vets and creatives alike ( and the holiday season ) I thought that it was at the very least noteworthy. There are definitely those who are not pleased that the supermarket is leveraging the Great War to pedal their goods while others have called it a creative masterpiece; none the less let’s attempt to briefly “unwrap” this Christmas megalith.


Director & Crew – $100k

The planning, setup, and execution of this spot were clearly very substantial. In an idealistic world this spot would need a crew of at least 12-15 people for 3 shooting days at a minimum: One day for the night time and at least two for the day shoot, but given the immense time spent in post V.E., the tight trench shots could have been completed in a studio at any time of day.

Cast/Talent -$100k

So who was the real star here? Jim? Otto? or the willy wonka-esque chocolate bar? Clearly, Sainsbury wanted the product shot to occupy a big part of our hearts and minds. Either way, casting and hiring a small militia – whether they are fighting or footballing – means mega moola for the extra bodies.

Post Production

Editing – $15k

The shots were already excellent, thus lending themselves to a fairly simple straight editing style. Crafting the timing to maximize the emotional impact would take some time, but overall I don’t see any reason why one skilled editor couldn’t craft the story in a week.

Sound and Score – $30k

Cue the music! There was quite the variety of audible explorations for this spot from soft piano to exploding bombs – and let’s not forget the choir of young men whose voices rise above the snow covered trenches. All of these areas may require different specialists and would certainly take some finessing.

Visual Effects, Scene Painting – $40k

Good lord the Mill has done it again; it seems as though everything they touch has a little piece of magic in it. All of the winterized, war torn landscape shots were digitally painted by the Mill’s team creating an ultra realistic battlefield that transports the viewer to the 1914 frontlines. This was no easy or inexpensive task.


Total Estimation & Final Thoughts – $285k

Leaving out the countless jobs that went into conceptualization, pre planning and the post implementation, Sainsbury has created a huge amount of buzz around their own Christmas classic. Whether you love it or hate it, the amount of work and craft that went into this creation are undeniable.

That being said, when it’s all said and done there are definitely more affordable ways to extend Christmas wishes.

Hope you all had a happy holiday, from myself & Arbiter Creative!


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