Director Charley Stadler's terrifying Christmas spot causes storm in Russia and now worldwide

RUSSIA-CHRISTMAS.jpgRussian TV ad showing Santa abducting a busy single mother and dragging her by a rope sparks rage

A furore in Russia is now spreading internationally surrounding the new Christmas TV commercial via Russian agency 3Sba, helmed by UK director Charley Stadler.

The film for MKB, Credit Bank of Moscow aired in its original length of 5minutes and has caused an uproar across Russia with feminist groups, it's being talked about on TV stations and thrown up a frenzy on Facebook. Now it is being written about in the mainstream UK press.

The film is a contemporary take on a fairytale where instead of the wicked witch we see a challenged 21st century mother with her daughter simply appealing to Santa in a traditional Christmas letter.

The director's agent, Cream Directors/UK, learned this morning the storm around the film has penetrated the Russian government causing the Finance Minister to summon the CEO of MKB and insisted he withdraw the film from all TV and Cinema screens.

Client: Credit Bank of Moscow
Marketing director: Nadezhda Levashova
Head of Marketing and advertising: Olga Nerodo
Agency: 3Sba
Creative director: Konstantin Tokarev
Copywriter: Adam Kreutner
Agency producer: Anton Kirillov, Nikita Raden
Production: Martini Shot
Executive producer: Nikita Kochkarev
Line producer: Daria Galaeva
Director: Charley Stadler
Director's Agent: Cream Directors/UK
DOP: Ivan Solomatin
Drone operator: Aleksandra Zubchenko
1st AD:  Kirill Pushkin
Actors: Nikolett Barabas, Sergey Studenikin, Alisa Tekucheva
Set designer: Papuna Papashkiri
Costume designer: Elena Ushakova
Music: Shamala Tamrazova (Von Seefeld)
Song producer: Adrian Bushby
Sound design: Srdjan Kurpjel
CGI: Sergey Movchan
Cut: Nikolay Ivanov
Grading: Artem Leonov

Charley Stadler's reply to the Daily Mail article:

I'm shocked that some people interpret the film in the complete opposite way that I intended.

The marketing director Nadezhda Levashova is a Russian working mother. I'm the father of a young girl and the Credit Bank of Moscow's charitable foundation, Arithmetic of Kindness, supports orphanages throughout Russia. The Los Angeles based American copywriter Adam Kreutner also has a young daughter. We had a very collaborative process from script, to shoot to final cuts with the agency 3SBA , Executive Producer Anton Kirillov, Creative Director Konstantin Tokareva, Nadya and Adam. At no time during any stage of the process did anybody, male, female, Russian, German or American voice concerns of a potential controversy.

My goal was to simply create a modern Christmas fairytale that included a strong and confident working mother, played by American actress Nikolett Barabas, who had achieved much financial success but also lost her way in the most important aspect of her life. Most fairytales use a powerful female mother figure, which is why we chose the same. Although the story houses a dark undertone (especially early on like most fairy tales), it ends with an uplifting message of love and what's truly important in life, to spend more time with your children. As a film maker I decided to shoot this film in a realistic tone set against a fairy tale backdrop. It's apparent that some people couldn't separate this from the actually fictitious storytelling. Even the track "Wishes" specifically written for the film by the London based band Von Seefeld highlights a theme of unification.

Yes, the journey to get there is dirty, unsettling and ugly, but so is life at times. I believe many of us need to be led through the "mud" in order to open our eyes. I chose the image of Santa pulling the Mother by a rope as a metaphor for this and of course it represents a safety line as they walking through rough nature. Once they reach the top and out of danger, Santa cuts her loose. Symbolically and figuratively, she went through a journey of her inner self crisis, an internal story of transformation. As the famous Xmas song says " He knows if you've been naughty. He knows if you've been nice. He knows if you've been bad or good ..." Well, our Santa knows about the mother, so you better watch out. Santa Claus is coming to town.

I personally detest violence and would never promote anything negative or violent toward women. As I stated earlier, I am a married man and father of a young daughter. At no time in the film is Santa violent or physical with the Mother. It's a story to become a better person and to spend precious time with your children. That's what the Christmas spirit is all about.

This experience once again reinforces that all of us see the world through our own lens. As I stated, the criticism has shocked me and the interpretation was never my intention. I made this film to remind us all of our most precious gift and to not just to sell a product. Santa delivers the greatest Xmas present to the mother and daughter. And in the end, maybe some good can come out of this, as it has created dialogue and discourse. This might be the greatest x-mas present and message of all.

Leave a comment


A blog for advertising creatives in New Zealand. To pass on news or advertise on the blog, email To subscribe to Campaign Brief Magazine click here or download the subscription form. Magazine subscribers receive complimentary access to the online magazine archive (including current issue).

Latest jobs

Retrieving latest jobs