Colchester Zoo is set to release a Christmas advert that rivals the supermarkets!

On Friday 17th November at 4:00pm, we will be releasing our first Christmas advert campaign!

It’s been a BIG year for us as 2023 marks our 60th anniversary since opening our doors in 1963. We plan to finish this historical year on a high with our ever popular and sell-out Christmas festivities! To tie in with our seasonal events, we have collaborated with Essex-based production company, Deadline Communications, to produce a magical Christmas advert that will inspire future generations for years to come.

“This year has truly been a special year for us after celebrating our 60th anniversary. We wanted to end the year with something we haven’t done before, so we got in touch with our friends at Deadline Communications to see if they’d like to help us produce a Christmas advert. We were delighted that they were pleased to work with us again and the result is simply amazing. Our aim was to bring emotion and a connection to the forefront of the advert and feel we’ve really captured this with the story – we are so excited for you all to see it!”

Melissa Dench, Colchester Zoo Business Development Manager

The advert is just under 2 minutes in length, titled ‘Tiger Spirit’, and follows the story of a young girl called Molly and her quest to find the courage to make friends. After hearing the soft rumbles of a tiger growl, Molly’s parents take her to Colchester Zoo where she enjoys Christmas with her family. Whilst at the zoo, Molly finds her ‘Tiger Spirit’ to give her the confidence to make new friends.

“It’s incredible to see ‘Tiger Spirit’ come to life after months of planning from paper to screen, which wouldn’t have been possible without the help of all those involved.”

Amanda Willis, Colchester Zoo Digital Design and Marketing

Enjoying the Past in the Present

After such a fantastic year celebrating the past, present and future of Colchester Zoo, it was decided that this year’s special gift to those taking part in The Santa Experience, would be Spirit the White Tiger, cuddly toy. Based on a beloved animal that once lived at the zoo, Sasha the White Tiger is embedded in our history after becoming adored by visitors and raising vital funds for conservation projects.

Where to Watch

The Colchester Zoo ‘Tiger Spirit’ advert will be a part of an online marketing campaign. The advert will first be launched via our social media platform, Facebook, on Friday 17th November at 4:00pm. It will also take centre stage on our website and on screens at the zoo.

There’s a Sound

We are delighted to have singer and songwriter, Katy for Kings as part of this special project. Katy wrote the song especially for the advert and is releasing it as a single on all major music platforms (Spotify, iTunes and Amazon Music) on Friday 17th November to coincide with the launch of the advert.

“I’m incredibly honoured to have been asked to be a part of the Colchester Zoo advert this year. It’s been a very rewarding challenge and I’m grateful to not only have been given the opportunity to write a Christmas song, but also to see everything come together as a beautiful end product.”

Katy for Kings, Singer and Songwriter

The Team behind the Magic

Encapsulating the spirit of this year at Colchester Zoo wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration of Deadline Communications, which was formed in 2004 by filmmakers Simon J Frith, Jim Cogan and Peter Curtis. Simon assembled a top team to produce the film including: Struan Wallace, Director of Photography; David Freedman, First Assistant Director; Rebecca Goodeve, Colourist; and Alex Wallace, First Assistant Camera.

“It’s always a joy creating content for, and supporting, Colchester Zoo and I’m so pleased that we managed to get ‘Tiger Spirit’ to take shape in a short space of time, with no budget. It’s essentially a story of friendship and overcoming personal fears to connect with people. I had a wonderful team of dedicated professionals to help make it happen, and the fruit of their passion shows through in the end result.”

Simon J Frith, Director

“They say never work with kids and animals, but we managed to pull it off, thanks to an enthusiastic client, crew and cast. Makes my job easier.”

Struan Wallace, Director of Photography

The advert also features our very own branded Colchester Zoo bus in partnership with First Essex. At the end of 2022, we kick started our year of celebration by working with First Essex to rebrand one of their busses with our 60th branding. The branded bus is one of three buses that drive the No 75 route, picking up and dropping off visitor right outside the Zoo. Being able to incorporate the bus within the advert helped to tie the story together, not only by helping to promote a greener way to travel to the zoo, but also showcasing that travel to the Zoo can be accesses by all.

“When we were approached by Colchester Zoo to be a part of their ‘Tiger Spirit’ advert, we couldn’t say no! Our East of England team have a long standing partnership with the zoo and we’re really excited to see our dedicated purple zoo bus in their advert.”

First Bus

Local Communities

The making of ‘Tiger Spirit’ not only celebrated our festive characters but also brought together local companies. A number of South Essex College students joined the crew to assist with the production and gain valuable work experience. The stars of our film were newcomers, seven-year old Presley, and five-year old James, from Westcliff’s Absolute Arts (Performing Arts School).

“This has been such a valuable experience for the students at South Essex College. The students have been given a real and unique insight into the film industry which would have previously not been available to them. The students have gained a better understanding of the technical skills, knowledge, professional and communication skills required to enter the industry by working with professionals. They can understand what they are doing and why they are doing it, which is an important learning experience that we try to embed on the television and film course. It is a very inclusive environment which also helps to solidify their future progression choices, such as entering the industry or going to university and the sorts of career choices they want to make. This in turn also helps to raise the profile of the College, not only for prospective learners but also within the local community as a whole.”

Cathy Mayo, TV and Film Course Leader at South Essex College

“What an absolute honour to have been asked by Deadline to cast the children in this ad campaign. As ever, Colchester Zoo and Simon were a joy to work with! And our little people did us so very proud.”

Rachael Beauchamp, Absolute Arts Manager

Shop the Advert

Molly’s story will come to life at our Magic of Christmas event. Although only those with tickets to visit The Santa Experience will be able to receive their very own Spirit White Tiger toy, visitors can learn more about Molly’s story at the Christmas Tale, with a live performance from the Wild Vibe Crew.

You can shop the advert and purchase tickets to our ever popular Magic of Christmas event here and pre-book The Santa Experience here. Santa Experience tickets are subject to availability and therefore prompt booking is advised. To enjoy the trail of lights at Colchester Zoo, pre-book your Enchanted Trail of Light tickets here. Enchanted is an event held at the zoo after hours and has limited capacity per date. The Colchester Zoo Souvenir Book can be purchased here. Pre-book a Giraffe Feeding Experience here; and purchase an Animal Experience here.


‘Tiger Spirit’ director, Simon J Frith, learnt his craft as a teenager making short films on Super 8 and 16mm in the late 1980s. This gave him a real understanding of making films to tight budgets and taught him the disciplines of efficiency and problem solving. For the past twenty years he has been mainly rooted in the industrial film market, producing, directing and editing hundreds of films for corporate clients, but has also produced and directed other genres of film including the 2019 feature documentary ‘Under the Radar: The Mike Edmonds Story’ with Colin Firth, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin, and award-winning short films Eva’s Legacy [2015], Rogue Trader [2019] and What a Waste [2023], and web TV series Not on Your Telly [2021-2022].

Simon has previously directed films for Colchester Zoo, helping them to recover from the lockdowns of 2020: Leah’s Leopard and the two-hour live fundraiser show, Bringing the Zoo to You.
Katy for Kings is a singer/songwriter who has been writing music for almost a decade. She is passionate about lyricism and learning how to express herself and is determined to find the perfect balance of doing so clearly and emotively through song. Katy tries to explore as many genres as possible and works closely with producer John Fields who, with his extensive knowledge and immaculate skill, is always sure to elevate even the simplest of ideas.
Absolute Arts is a performing arts school and rehearsal studios situated in the heart of Westcliff-on-Sea. A home-from-home, family-friendly environment with affordable classes taught by inspiring industry professionals.
Struan began his professional career as a stills photographer in the 1980s, and progressed to the moving image in the early 2000s. He has spent his entire professional career behind the camera and his production work has taken him around the world. Struan last collaborated with Simon on a series of tourism commercials in 2022 and is pleased to be collaborating again.
A BAFTA member and versatile team player, whose experience has afforded him work on multiple short and feature films in a variety of production roles including on Disney’s live-action Pinocchio [2022] and Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny [2023].
A freelance colourist who has worked on pretty much every genre of moving-image artform. She brings her visual flair to everything from short films and commercials (including those for Carlsberg and Haribo) to music videos, documentaries, and feature films (including Insurgent [2015], Grimsby [2016] and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword [2017]). 
Alex Wallace (First Assistant Camera) is a great addition to our production team. He has worked on many major film and television projects, including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker [2019], 1917 [2019], Andor [2022], House of the Dragon [2022], Rings of Power: Season 2 [2024]and Beetlejuice 2 [2024].

Newsletter Signup

Sign up to our newsletter for all the latest deals, news and more!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter