Holiday commercials: naughty and nice


Yes, advertisers use the holiday season to reinforce traditional family stereotypes. They use holiday ads to foster mass consumerism during this season. You. Must. Buy. Gifts. To. Show. Your. Love. Or they make you feel bad for not having a nuclear family. So you shop to fill the “hole” they dig in your heart. Some of them are globalization agents of all that’s fast, mediocre and disposable.

But they still produce some damn good holiday commercials, or at least ones that can make you laugh, for whatever reason.

I guess they have to, if they want to maintain their market dominance without necessarily having to increase their quality. I’m not a shopper, but felt like watching holiday ads on YouTube and sharing them with you as we pass through yet another season. They vary in terms of quality and the degree to which they tug at your heartstrings or funny bone. It’s a matter of taste, anyway.

Let’s start with Germany, and then hop around a bit.

Viral: #Heimkommen to Grandpa

This holiday commercial from Edeka is one of my favorite ads ever. I remember it reaching far and wide, and that someone not living in Germany sent it to me. So, as the story goes, everyone is too busy to visit Grandpa. You see him sitting alone and forlorn at the table each time Christmas rolls around. And then… a message is sent out.

One-eared Pirate: The Secret to Happiness

The Russian internet company Yandex gives us an ad about ads. But you don’t really know that until the end, or if you read the video description on YouTube. It gave me a confusing mix of feelings: tenderness, and then thinking, gee, you can’t get any more consumerist than this. But then again, the object is bought from a small local provider…

Chinese New Year: Family Reunion Dinner

Review: “The Academy Award nominations may have been announced this week, but none of the dramatic performances of the past year can touch the ones in this commercial for BERNAS, Malaysia’s national rice supplier.” Agreed! I almost cried! How easy it is for us to forget… what it was like… when we ate rice!

Chinese New Year: Soft Drink Edition

And now, for a slightly less dramatic note, but also emotional. A boy so sensitive he feels bad for a lone snowman outside. He’s also got imaginary friends. If I saw those things come to life, I’d be scared shitless. But no one is scared or sad when they drink Coke. It cleans up their insides, like it does household fixtures (supposedly – I’ve never tried).

Viral: How #BusterTheBoxer Stole Christmas

You may have seen this holiday ad from the UK department store chain John Lewis. It was a hit when it came out, and quickly gained a parody involving Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and the Obamas. I’d watch the original (below) first, and then have a look at the parody, which made me ROFL last year.

Christmas and Lucky Strike: It’s Toasted!

Lord Jesus Christ. This is precious. Can you imagine if this were on anywhere today? The scandal? “Friends. Here’s a wonderful Christmas gift for anyone who smokes. Because it says Merry Christmas… and Happy Smoking… two hundred times.” You’ve got to hear it to believe it.

Hanukkah: Hallmark Comes at the End

Sorry for the spoiler, guys, but Grandpa is about to receive a surprise as he’s telling a story to his grandchildren on Hanukkah. Can you guess what it is? This commercial kinda warms my heart, but it also makes me think of getting old very fast, as the grandfather remembers clearly when he was just a boy “coming to America”.

Last but not Least: Happy Holidays from Burger King

Don’t ask me why I was on Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Instagram page. But it happened, and that’s where I spotted this holiday gem. Sarah, Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue, looking so young and eager to grill us a synthetic burger, before they went on to do bigger and better things. Can you spot each of them?

See, there’s hope for all of us.

A Global Studies doctoral degree holder and former newspaper reporter, avid eater, pseudo-philosopher and poet, occasion-propelled singer, semi-professional socializer, movie addict, Brazilian-American nomad. In this space, she will share some of her experiences and (mis)adventures regarding various topics, with special attention to social issues.

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