Something’s different in the air this year. Let’s just say that Santa will avoid entering through the chimney, he’ll leave his gifts at the front door. It’s true, despite the endless waves of lockdowns and restrictions on social gatherings, we all need a little joy and Christmas commercials are here to forge some enthusiasm as usual. However, they also seem a little different.
More than social distancing and shrunk budgets, the challenge this year was to adapt to the mood of an unprecedented pandemic holiday. Some tried to forge a sentiment of warmth, while others satirized the adversities for a good laugh. As usual, there were also the ones jumping through a lot of hoops to tackle the magic of the season.
And while there are a few more animated films this year, it’s still a surprise to see that amongst all the shooting restrictions around the world, most brands were still able to make some great live-action films. For us in the adverting industry in China, with no shooting restrictions since the spring, it’s easy to take for granted that these brands and markets must have had to go to great length and efforts to ensure this festive season was not to be missed… and maybe, that in itself, is proof that the Christmas spirit is still alive and well this year!
AMAZON — The Show Must Go On
Although many spots this year featured COVID-19 in a way or another, some made it their centerpiece. Amazon presented the awe-inspiring story of a ballerina who’s been unceasingly practicing for what seems to be the performance of her life. Her show, however, is canceled because of lockdown restrictions. Still, her little sister and an enamored neighbor prompt her to perform outdoors for the community. With a stunning arrangement of Queen’s The Show Must Go On, the film features the real-life seventeen-year-old French ballerina Taïs Vinolo who also kept training throughout lockdown.
A heart-felt live-action film that really embraces the true essence of the human spirit, let alone the Christmas spirit, during the pandemic.
XFINITY – The Greatest Gift
You may not recognize him straight away, but Steve Carell is Santa, aka “the boss,” in Xfinity’s Christmas commercial this year. Dressed only from the waist up, he manages his team of socially distancing elves on a project to reinvent Christmas gifts. They have the idea of boxing the holiday spirit itself, but it takes some effort to convince the skeptical Santa. More than reinventing gifts, he had to reinvent his business as a whole and, along with his team, find a way to pull it off—such as many entrepreneurs and businesses this year.
TESCO – No Naughty List
There is no naughty list in a world of relatable bad homemade haircuts, toilet paper buying sprees, and never ending handwashing. That’s Tesco’s premise for this year’s series of Christmas commercials, revolving around confessions of bad behavior and the absolution of anyone’s and everyone’s COVID-19 sins. It’s been reported that UK parents are demanding the brand to drop the advert. Who’s to blame?
WAITROSE & JOHN LEWIS – Give A Little Love
John Lewis campaigns have had some great previous animation holiday ads, so while it was no surprise that would use animation again this year, it unfortunately feels more forced this time around. Eight different animation styles made by eight houses, from clay motion to illustration, puppetry, and 3D, to build a narrative conveying the importance of giving a little love. A delightful original song by rising star Celeste sets the pace for a series of small good deeds to unfurl, all represented by heart-shaped objects made of the various elements of the story all masterfully blended.
DISNEY – From Our Family To Yours
迪士尼 – 《从我家到你家》
Disney’s story starts in 1940 in a tropical village with Lola, a little girl receiving a Mickey Mouse from her dad. It then jumps 65 years into a snowy European suburb where she’s now a grandmother. Every Christmas, she decorates a star-shaped lamp with her granddaughter. But the younger one becomes detached from the activity year after year until she realizes how meaningful it is to Lola for giving life to memories of her faraway life. With an indisputable Disney quality, it’s a heartwarming film about intergenerational bonds and family tradition. Is someone chopping onions?
TOYOTA – The Journey
丰田 – 《旅行》
Toyota’s spot also has a unique visual approach. A world created entirely on CGI (admittedly to overcome COVID-19 challenges in production) features a father and son duo inside an SUV chasing a letter to Santa blown by the wind. It’s a brief journey that takes them to the outskirts of town, leading to the realization that the journey was the purpose all along: an adventure between father and son. It’s an inspiring commercial, also featuring a captivating original song.
It’s not very common to see a car commercial use animation. Part of the importance of selling a car is seeing the beauty and performance of the product for real. So while this genre choice was due to the shooting restrictions and unpredictability of shooting a live action car commercial during the pandemic, the end result is so beautiful and effective, we wouldn’t be surprised if the brand uses more cgi in their campaigns in the future.
MATCH – Match Made In Hell
Match约会 – 炼狱眷侣
Think about it. Only two spirits can love this year more than any other, Satan and “Two-Zero-Two-Zero,” the year itself (or herself). Match’s commercial explains what happened: the two of them matched on the dating app eleven months and twenty-something days ago, and it was love at first sight. They were the only ones enjoying the empty gyms and cinemas and stealing all the toilet papers all year round. Actor Ryan Reynolds, who’s on Match’s board, wrote and directed this hilarious spot, and Taylor Swift re-recorded her hit Love Story especially for it.
如果我们仔细思考一下，或许只有两个家伙会对今年爱得死去活来，撒旦和“二零二零”年本年。Match约会的广告给大家解释了事情的来龙去脉：这两位是在他们的约会软件上相遇，就是11个多月前的那一天，他们一眼看中了彼此。是他们，在空无一人的健身房快乐，是他们，在鸦雀无声的电影院开心，是他们，偷走了全年的厕纸。演员Ryan Reynolds是Match约会的董事会成员，他自编自导了这个搞笑的短片，而Taylor Swift还专门为此重新录制了她的热门单曲《Love Story》。
SODASTREAM & SNOOP DOGG – The Small Things
SodaStream 与 Snoop Dogg – 《从小事做起》
Who would have guessed that Snoop Dogg’s formula for happiness was so altruistic? All about the small things, he saves turtles from countless plastic bottles with a small act—drinking from SodaStream’s sparkling water maker. This year, he also opted for an intimate gathering with his family, all remarkably alike. “Small things can save the world” is their motto.
谁能想到Snoop Dogg幸福的秘诀竟是如此无私呢? 都是从小事做起，通过使用SodaStream苏打水机饮水，他的一个小小善举就将海龟从成百上千的塑料瓶中拯救了出来。今年他还提议小范围过节，只和自己的家人团圆，有趣的是他全家人都长得一模一样。“小善举能拯救世界” 就是他们的座右铭。
LEGO – Rebuild the World
LEGO invites us to experience the magic that happens inside a child’s mind while playing with the little colorful building blocks. The film is part of a bigger and long-lasting campaign of the same name, Rebuild the World, that gained another layer of meaning with the pandemic. This time, children from all over the world reimagine and rebuild the holidays. Dragons, robots, astronauts, and princess-knights come alive in a celebration of youthful creativity to the sound of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World recorded with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
乐高带我们感受了孩子们拼积木的快乐，一窥他们脑中丰富精彩的想象世界。这部影片是一个规模更大、持续时间更长的宣传活动的一部分，“重建世界”，这一主题也因新冠疫情获得了另一层含义。这一次，来自世界各地的孩子们要重新构思和重建节日。伴随着布拉格爱乐乐团演唱的路易斯·阿姆斯特朗的经典歌曲《What a Wonderful World》，龙、机器人、宇航员和公主骑士们活跃起来，展现了孩子们非凡的创造力。
While this spot seems less of Christmas campaign, it does ultimately feel more like a campaign trying to compete against the massive video game industry and trying to showcase a “builders” imagination is equally as impressive as any video game out there. But even more so because it’s a tangible product that allows you create a wonderful world yourself. While the chaotic and action packed film feels slightly out of place for LEGO, the over all message is poignant.