Grafters Design
Ballymena Bear

The Ballymena Bear


Create a promotional film to encourage shoppers to come to the town centre and do their Christmas Shopping. Also to give a much need morale boost to the town which had recently had annoucements of huge job losses.


The aim was to get people not familiar with the town talking about it, sharing the ad and importantly coming to visit the town. So it needed to be something different, with viral appeal. Especially as there was a small promotional budget.

For our inspiration we looked to the big budget Christmas Ads: John Lewis, Sainsburys, Tesco etc. The ones with an engaging story that gets people sharing online


We eventually came up with a story about a little handmade bear that gets lost in the town over Christmas and while looking for the child he is detined to be with, also explores all that the town has to offer.

Why the bear?

People identity the easiest with a simple character, they see themselves as the character. So when the character is something like a toy bear, something we all had as a child then we connect emotionally with that character through the eyes of us as children. Which is why there’s such a strong emotional impact when it’s lost, sad or frightened because we remember how that felt when we were that age.

It’s a simple story with some very deep themes. Purpose, hope, loss, love, fear, family.

Hardworking Results

Grown men were reduced to tears, children said it was the best thing since that film with all the ice, within five days it was viewed by more than twice the population of the town and several online polls rated it the best Christmas Ad of the year.

Facts & Figures

  • Over 65,000 YouTube views in 5 days
  • Well over an estimated 100,000 views by Christmas
  • Viewed in over 124 countries worldwide
  • Frontpage meintions on local and regional newspapers
  • Two TV news features
  • Four Radio Interviews
  • More requests for the Bear to make an appearance at Schools, Churches and Pantomines than could be dealt with
  • Used as a study tool in secondary school media classes
  • Hundreds of requests from people worldwide to buy their own bear
  • Numerous people online saying they will now shop in Ballymena
  • Numerous anedocal evidence of people travelling long distances to shop in businesses featured in the promo.

Positive Impact

Local people were talking about it for weeks and there’s no doubt it helped give a local morale boost and increase the profile of the town. The national trend is of a decline in the high street and the town was undergoing a lot of roadworks at the time which will have played a factor in keeping people at home.

However even with all of this, footfall counters showed that the decline in numbers was lower than the national average.

The Ballymena Bear