The holidays can make or break a year. That goes for creatives as well. No pressure. Just create a holiday ad that will put the perfect bow on 2022. No worries. You have months to develop, shoot, edit, and push it out there for the world to hopefully love. Good luck with that!
As if Christmas music and store decorations beginning in October aren’t bad enough, we’re endlessly subjected to a never-ending barrage of holiday spots to boot. The good, the bad and the ugly. As a tribute to the madness of the season, our Director of Creative Services has judged some of the best and worst from recent ads aired here and internationally.
So, what spots garnered his approval and which ones had him retching and running for the men’s room? Have a look into our Christmas Ad Courtroom and hear what he has to say. Do you agree or not? After all, creativity is subjective, right?
CASE 1: GMC – “One for you, one for me”…again (2021)
EVIDENCE: Again? No, thank you. Sure, the holidays are about giving gifts and conspicuous consumption. Love it or hate it, that’s an indisputable fact. But… really? Isn’t giving gifts at least supposed to be about something more than “Look at how awesome I am”?
We have a young couple of millionaires (check out that house!) flaunting their wealth in the most conspicuous way possible. No sentiment. No, dare I say, love? Love of things, definitely. Everything those holiday haters despise is tied up in a shiny red bow.
If this spot doesn’t make you want to gag, I have a year-old fruit cake with your name on it. Shame GMC. I hope those expensive trucks run on coal because that’s all you’re getting for making us all ill for the holidays.
VERDICT: GUILTY (of being annoying)
CASE 2: Doc Morris (German-based mail-order pharmaceutical company)
First, a warning: Have a box of tissues handy before watching this one.
EVIDENCE: Wow! First of all, a pharma ad that doesn’t promise a wonderful life (sorry, George Bailey) or a long list of side effects likely worse than the condition you’re suffering from. Hallelujah for that alone!
But then we have a real human story that touches us all in a place that few big-budget movies can. No selling. No cringe-worthy pseudo-emotionalism. Just honest storytelling at its finest. Enjoy this wonderful spot, and remember what makes the holidays truly special.
EVIDENCE: Who doesn’t remember this one? This one created quite a firestorm. And not in a good way. Can you say body shaming? Can you say, as a woman, you have to be gorgeous, thin, smart, and anything that has nothing to do with your worth? Well, that’s exactly what this spot says, loud and clear. And it sure got a reaction, although not the kind that Peleton, or the creatives that brought this spot to life, wanted. Peleton stock actually went into freefall because of all the negative publicity. Great job, guys!
In a world where major celebrities and powerful men are feeling the wrath of women standing strong against a culture that, shall I say, objectifies them, maybe the role here should have been reversed. Now that would have been fun to watch.
BONUS: The one person who’s actually benefitted from all the hoopla around this spot is actress Monica Ruiz. Still as beautiful as she was before her pretend year sweating with the oldies, she even got the leading role in a spot for Aviation Gin that hilariously spoofs this oops of an ad. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayD-4nMnB44 Sweet revenge, girls!
CASE 4: Microsoft – Holiday Magic Lucy and the Reindeer
EVIDENCE: Yep. This spot has it all. It’s hilarious. It’s charming and puts a holiday spin on the product that’s memorable and endearing. Bravo, creative team! Sometimes you appreciate the commercial more than what it is you’re actually trying to watch. This is one of them. Rare as that is. Shot exceptionally well. Cast perfectly. And talking _______ (can’t give it away for those that read this before watching the spot) – who could ask for more?
As a Creative Director, I can only dream that someday I will even come close to producing something as ingeniously funny and genuinely creative as this. Santa? All I want for Christmas is a shiny gold pencil. Please. Just this once. I promise not to go all arrogant. Ok. Maybe a little.
EVIDENCE: Can you say “More money than sense”? Well, I guess if you’re Apple, with the added benefit of a contributing partner like Verizon, you can do whatever you darn well please. Including throwing in the kitchen sink for good measure. That’s what we have here. While there have been effective spots recently showcasing the amazing video quality of the iPhone, this is not one of them.
Sure, it’s tagged at the end with “Shot on iPhone 11 Pro”, but if this overindulgence is meant to inspire amazing holiday videos or capture the film director’s imagination, in my estimation, it does neither. No compelling storyline to draw you in. No tug at the heartstrings. Nothing but an overly long, poorly concepted action sequence that tries to have some sort of warm ending. I’ll let you decide – not. It doesn’t. Lesson: All the money in the world cannot make up for the lack of an idea. We miss you, Steve. We really, really miss you :-(
Happy Holidays to you. We hope you get everything you want this year, including some stellar spots to go along with your millionth Home for the Holidays 24-hour marathon. Happy viewing!