Staff Reporters
Dec 19, 2012

Holiday TVC review: From the heartwarming to the bizarre

An Australian Christmas-season ad for Paypal this year (above) plays on the idea of the Secret Santa/Kris Kringle gift exchange, where you never know what you're going to get—an apt metaphor for this year's crop of holiday-themed TVCs from Asia and around the world.

Like a Kris Kringle gift, a holiday TVC might turn out to be a sublime surprise that tugs at the heartstrings. Or, it could be an incomprehensibly bizarre present that makes you question the sanity of the person delivering it.

Thus our highly selective roundup of TVCs that caught our eye, presented in no particular order, runs the gamut from the truly emotional to the seemingly insane, with appearances by Wallace & Gromit, a turkey in a boxing ring, a smoke-blowing Snoop Dog, cavorting Jaguar cubs and even a new vocabulary term, 'Scroogled'.

Please add your own thoughts and additions in the comments section at the bottom of the page. 

The Paypal spot above, by Dynamix and We Are Social, is part of a series that actually set out to eliminate the unwanted-gift problem by asking people to organise their gift exchanges through, thus making sure everyone would get something they actually wanted. The campaign featured the heartwarming strapline, 'It's the lack of thought that counts'.

BBH and Chupa Chups can always be counted on to provide an offbeat, 'Life less serious' take, and this holiday campaign focusing on the plight of those poor souls with December birthdays is no exception:


The next ad, from Ikea Thailand and agency Monday, also involves a traumatic holiday experience, this time for the kiddies, when Santa Claus (dad in disguise) blows his cover at the first sight of food:


Christmas is a time for giving. And cuddly teddy bears. And awkward, off-key caroling. The Four Seasons Hong Kong features all three, to predictable but nonetheless charming effect, in this online video highlighting its annual charity effort: Proceeds from the sale of a teddy bear go to the Hong Kong Cancer Fund.


We could continue with the cute ads (and don't worry, we'll have more in a moment), but just to make sure you don't overload on the sweetness, we'll turn now to one of the more inexplicable efforts we've come across. This four-plus-minute, partially animated retelling of A Christmas Carol stars Snoop Dog (ok, Snoop Lion) as the Scrooge figure, as well as tennis great Stan Smith, footballer David Beckham, singer Rita Ora and NBA star Derrick Rose as the ghosts. The brand associated with this weirdness, which includes not-at-all-subtle marijuana references (come to think of it, Snoop himself is a marijuana reference), is Adidas, and the agency was Sid Lee. "Happy Holidizzles", indeed.


Since we're talking about Scrooge, here's an ad that invokes the name in a forced, roundabout way. This one is from Microsoft, which continues—in increasingly desperate fashion—to plug its Bing search engine, this time in an uncomfortably stilted infomercial-style scene that hinges on one of the hosts getting "Scroogled" by paid shopping results on Google. Does Microsoft not take money for placement in search results? Are people crying out against the injustice of Google Shopping results? Will Microsoft ever produce an ad that's not peopled by robotic caricatures of human lifeforms?


Ok, time for something that's actually fun, rather than merely fun to make fun of. In this ad, by DraftFCB for BMW in Switzerland, four carolers get challenged to carry a Christmas tune—and hold down their lunch—while careening around a race course:


Continuing in the luxury theme, Cartier has followed up on its sumptuous film from earlier this year, with a similarly opulent Christmas entrant starring jaguar cubs that are, like the jeweller's target audience, very fond of expensive, shiny baubles. The film craft is impeccable. The cubs are cute. They cavort among oversized watches. There's not much of a plot. ROI was probably not a big concern for this one.


We promised a boxing turkey, and we shall tease you no longer. Here it is, courtesy of this UK TVC for supermarket chain Morrison's. With many surreal touches besides the dancing turkey, the ad, by DLKW Lowe in London, does a great job playing up the immensity of the preparation challenge the holidays present to the mum (and of course, it's only the mum; she gets no help at all from anyone else). Almost too good a job, because when the heartwarming payoff comes in the final few seconds, we're not sure the wan smiles of her family members are enough to make it all worthwhile. Even she doesn't seem entirely convinced.  


Next, a tale of two TVCs that intend to tug at the heartstrings while associating the brand with all the good feelings of the season. The first, from UK retailer John Lewis, by Adam & Eve/DDB London, succeeds via an irresistable tale of a lovesick snowman. The latter, from Coca-Cola, is a rare misstep for the brand—widely criticised for being too 'cheesy' to really connect. Stick with the polar bears?


In the charitable spirit of the season, we'll also mention this far more effective Coca-Cola TVC that we covered a few days ago, produced in association with Singapore Association for the Deaf in Singapore. This ad connects in a genuine way by featuring Singapore celebrities signing (not singing) Christmas carols:


Earlier in the month, Australian discount retailer ALDI made effective use of the fact that Christmas comes in the summertime Down Under. Santas on surfboards, delivering hams. Who could say 'Bah Humbug' to that?  


We're grateful to our colleagues at Campaign UK for bringing to our attention this Google ad, by Adam & Eve/DDB London, which reunites many characters from the Wallace & Gromit universe in a fun Google Hangout:


And finally, in some markets and situations, all the heartfelt holiday emotion in the world might not help you connect with your target consumer. Such is clearly the case if you're trying to get attention for a Black Friday sale in the US. So what do you do? If your'e Old Navy, you get George Takei (Star Trek's Sulu) to belt out "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing", a very annoying power ballad by Aerosmith that featured in the terrible Asteroid-threatens-Earth Hollywood Blockbuster Armageddon, you change the lyric to "I don't wanna miss a deal", and you call your sale "Cheermageddon", that's what.


Had enough? Yes, thought so. If we've missed something you loved or hated, mention it below (don't try to link though, our comment system hates that).

And have a happy holiday!

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