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Aardman and Thatchers team up for sporting ad campaign

We’ve been back in the studio with multi–Academy Award® winning studio Aardman for the next chapter of our pint-sized perfection advertising campaign.

The new series of commercials celebrate the nation’s passion for sport, with the pint-sized models adapting their cider making skills to try their hand at football and cricket.

The adverts, which will be airing on TV and video-on-demand, use stop motion animation to bring viewers through the barn doors of Thatchers’ Myrtle Farm.

Keeping up quality

The first in the series sees Thatchers’ Head Cider Maker, Richard Johnson, reacting to a perfectly ripe apple falling from the tree, requiring football skills to match his cider making expertise. To make the models lifelike, Aardman animators based his movements on that of football legends.

The adverts will run across the FA Cup Final and UEFA Euro 2024 tournament as well as the women’s Euro 2025 qualifiers.

Bowled over

Having tried their hand at football, the Thatchers puppets will next be challenged to use their century of cider making skills to get across the line on the cricket pitch. The cricket adverts are broadcast alongside the Vitality Blast matches and the international cricket season this summer.

The commercials are directed by award-winning talent Magdelena Osinska at Aardman studios in Bristol who says: “What makes Thatchers and Aardman such a perfect match is not just our shared west country heritage, but how we both marry traditional techniques with modern technology to achieve perfection.

“To bring our characters to life we blend traditional stop motion animation with state-of-the-art visual effects. At Thatchers they use their 120 years of expertise and 150-year-old oak vats, coupled with state-of-the-art technology to create the perfect pint.”

With total dedication to their craft, it took a team of 34 people to bring the pint-sized world to life. Using puppets based on the Thatchers family and real people working at the farm, the animators shoot around 2 seconds of film a day.

Through painstaking attention to detail, such as using a toothbrush and toothpick to comb the dog’s fur between frames, or making the clothes from real fabric worn by the Thatchers, Aardman breathed life into the pint-sized models.

Martin Thatcher, fourth generation cider maker and star of the ads says; “Working with Aardman is a dream come true. We’re two South West businesses, filled with slightly obsessed perfectionists, that have used their attention to detail to become world leaders in their crafts.

“Down on the family farm we’ve been making cider with nothing but love for four generations and 120 years. It’s our dedicated attention to detail that delivers the perfect pint. It could only be Aardman, a company that shares the total commitment to painstaking perfection and is renowned for bringing joy to people’s lives, that could bring Thatchers to life in such an entertaining and heart-warming way.”

Fun facts from behind the scenes of the adverts

  • There are different sizes of apple ranging from tangerine size to chickpea size, depending on the scale of set or the perspective.
  • Aardman used approximately 12 pairs of hands to keep the puppets looking good on set and had to replace them after each time they hold an apple as the glue would remove the paint.
  • 585 storyboard panels were drawn to script out the adverts.
  • 302 hand painted apples were made for the shoot, with three different sizes needed to match the scale.
  • The upturned collar of Head Cider Maker Richard is a nod to footballing legend, Eric Cantona.

Kate Cox, CEO of Bray Leino, who are Thatchers’ creative agency and worked in partnership on the project said: “We’re really excited about this series of ads. It’s a beautiful continuation of the Thatchers-Aardman partnership which extends the story from last year’s master brand ad. As well as aligning Thatchers with sporting events, we really wanted to further immerse audiences in the Thatchers brand, with touching nods to the family nature of the business.”

The commercial will be part of a multi-media campaign including linear TV, video on demand, cinema and YouTube. This will be enhanced by outdoor advertising and a consumer focussed social media campaign running across the summer.

Check out the Aardman X Thatchers ad at


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Thatchers Cider Company Ltd, Myrtle Farm, Sandford, Somerset, BS25 5RA