December 16, 2013

Happy Ho Ho Ho To You

As sure as Christmas trees and Christmas movies in the holiday season are the Christmas adverts. We love ’em; we hate ’em. We share ’em; we deride them. We laugh. We cry. Let’s face it, we usually buy.

The “WestJet Holiday Miracle” is the talk of the holiday advertising buzz on the Interwebs. I guess 25 million youtube views can’t be wrong. Well, they can be, but this time, they’re worthy. Clever and sweet, it personifies the spirit of giving as WestJet employees race to fulfill the unfettered wish list of two planes of passengers.

Sniff. I am not teary. Not one bit. I’m catching a cold,  I swear.

Our culture is saturated with the pressures to buy and sell and have and never more so than around the Christmas holiday season. Yet the right gift can, for a moment, make someone’s rough world a little smoother. Sure, WestJet gets great exposure from their “stunt”, not to mention repeat customers, but they also made this a very special Christmas for several hundred people, some of whom may not have had much expectation of anything at all. Look at those faces in the baggage claim, both of the giftees and the gifters. That’s joy and for many people this time of year, joy is very hard to find. For a few moments, WestJet instilled a little more joy in their passengers’ lives and with this video, allows the rest of the world to feel that joy too.

Which makes such blatantly crass ads, like J.C. Penny’s Black Friday advert that replaced the “Fa La La La La” lyrics in the re-purposed Deck the Halls so that carollers could exhort a soccer mom to “Go Go Go Go Go. Shop Shop Shop Shop.” Stay classy, Pennys.


You can’t go wrong with the eternal twee that is Hershey Kisses “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” advert, which is probably why they use it every year.

There’s something to be said for staying with what works, and Folgers does that every time it trots out “Peter Comes Home.” Look, I love “coming home” stories. Do not get me started on those videos of military fathers surprising their kids by coming home for Christmas. So this big brother/little sister advert from 1988 always makes my throat close up even if it does date back to the days before Keurig cups.

My favorite fun advert this year is Kmart’s cheeky (heh) Jingle Bells.

It rang up some controversy of course, because God forbid we have a sexy holiday advert about men. In a youtube search for “sexy holiday commercials,” Kmart’s “Jingle Bells” advert rang is as 18th in the list…following 17 versions of Victoria sharing her secret with the whole world. She’s a giver, that one.

But my favorite advert overall in 2013 is the wonderfully lush series from British department store Marks & Spencer featuring model David Gandy (hmmm, Gandy Candy),  eclectic actress Helena Bonham Carter, and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in an opulent Alice in Wonderland, Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, Wizard of Oz mash-up homage.

Before long though, all the buy buy buy mania requires a palate cleanser else we lose sight of our purpose.  Enter the holiday flash mobs, all hung by the mall courts with care. This year the U.S. Air Force Band and Honor Guard took center stage at the National Air and Space Museum to spontaneously serenade patrons first with Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring before seguing into Joy to the World...complete with celestial choir.

But my personal go-to will always be this one from 2010 when a choir slowly and seamlessly enraptured the harried patrons of this mall food court with The Hallelujah Chorus.

Wary, overstressed, uncertain shoppers who are just trying to catch a crowded bite to eat in the hell that is a mall at Christmastime glance around at the weird people standing up to spontaneously sing. Slowly, as other choir members join in, understanding and awe sweep through the room. The woman who begins it at :33 remains so committed to the performance, even at the 2:07 mark she still has the cell phone prop at her ear and sings the entire song with it lodged there. The man who hoists his “WET FLOOR” stand prop like an announcement banner, arms outstretched in triumph as he boisterously joins in with the tenor and soprano standing on chairs next to him to introduce the third line at :59 . The stunned expression on the transfixed young boy at 1:21 as the full choir erupts in glorious song and the moment his mother, originally suspicious at :37, now moved and filled with joy at 3:06, takes his hand in hers as she sings along – and he holds on. The father at 1:50 resettling his excited toddler into his seat with a loving scratch on his son’s head. The grandmother at 3:03 who wipes tears from her eyes as she records the event on her phone. The joy on the young soprano in the back of the crowd and on the faces of the tenor and alto standing on chairs from 2:34 to 2:42 and again when that young woman from the back is featured at 2:48. The smile on her face as she sings, knowing that in this mix of crazed commercialism, she’s gifting these people with this moment of unfettered joy. And finally, the choirs’ raised arms of triumph as they sing the victorious finale. 

They. Get. It. 

May all the joy be yours and with those you love this blessed holiday season.

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  • Post authorMadeline Iva

    They do get in your brain, dig in and hold on. Over Thanksgiving I got one (thankfully I’ve forgotten it now) jingle stuck in my head and went around the house singing it a bajillion times.

    So far, I’ve been having a fairly commercial free xmas season — though I have seen the joe boxer commercial a few times.

    But maybe it’s just me. I’m kind of racing to finish a proposal before the end of the year, so as many people start taking time off, I’m working more and more and watching tv less and less…

    Reply to Madeline Iva
  • Post authorLizEverly

    Fun post, Kiersten!

    Reply to LizEverly
  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    This is great post! I hadn’t seen all of the videos. The Marks and Spencer ad was wonderful, and there’s something about flash mobs that will make me watch every time.

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore

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