12.10.20

Our Favorite Holiday Commercials

Danielle Hannan

🎶 It’s beginning to look a lot like…🎶  the Westies want an excuse to talk about some of our favorite holiday commercials. How’s that for an intro?

We actually do want to talk about some memorable holiday commercials.  Though the holidays may be significantly different for many this year, we’re still excited for them. We’re also pretty jazzed up by good (or really, really bad) commercials, too. And apparently there’s only a small window of time to talk about the crossover between these two interests. So, without further ado, we bring you our favorite Christmas commercials, submitted by our very own Westie team.

The Christmas Classics

 

When I put the call out on Slack (our ride or die/BFF/lifesaver through these unprecedented times) for the team’s favorite holiday commercials, some of the first responses are what we are going to consider “classics.”

Hershey’s “Bells” commercial came out in 1989 and the M&M’s “They Do Exist” spot came out in 1996. As one YouTube commenter pointed out, “When you see this [M&M’s] commercial and the Hershey’s Bells commercials, you know it’s Christmas Time.” We all know that YouTube commenters never lie.

More important than the YouTube truth-telling is the fact that both Kisses and M&M’s have become synonymous with Christmas. As an advertiser or a company executive, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Both commercials are iconically simple. Hershey’s Kisses slightly resemble jingle bells, so using them to recreate a heavy-on-the-bells Christmas carol is a match made in heaven.

M&M’s really brings the heat as far as quoteability. Hats off to you if you’ve managed to get through that commercial without saying either “He does exist” or “They do exist” in unison with the characters.

Christmas Nightmare

Those of us firmly in the Millennial or Gen X categories remember this terrifying McDonald’s spot. Apparently, not all memories are good ones. The spot starts innocently enough—a group of friends walk through a wintery landscape to go ice skating on a frozen pod, one young boy straggles behind. Enter 1980’s era Ronald McDonald: a walking sleep demon. Don’t get us wrong, his skating and energy are top-notch, but that can’t and doesn’t make up for his creepiness.

I’ll let the Westies elaborate:

  • “Never forget the Christmas ad that created an entire generation of clownphobics.” -Adam Rosenlund, Creative Director
  • “Did this preface It by Stephen King?” -Isabel Sarhad, Production Designer. To which Adam replied, “His pitch to his publisher was ‘What if it’s that McDonald’s holiday commercial, but he eats the kids?'” Nailed it.

If you hadn’t seen this commercial before, we’re sure that Monster Ronald will be burned into your brain forevermore. (To his credit, Scary Ronald does comfort the lonely boy at the end of the spot.)

Also, what’s up with the 80’s and mixing animated characters with real people? According to credible sources, the spot was released in 1982—a full six years before Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released.

Pittsburgh’s famous “Eat ‘N Park Christmas Star” Commercial

This commercial was submitted by Emily Del Favero, our digital account director and resident “yinzer.” Born and raised in The Burgh—Pittsburgh for those of you who don’t know—Emily said this commercial ran throughout her childhood. Quick background info: Eat ‘N Park is a restaurant chain local to the Pittsburgh area. In addition to being extremely cute, it was created to support Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital.

In the commercial, a star (named Sparkle!!) struggles to make its way to the top of a Christmas tree. After several failed attempts, the tree bends over to help the star. The tree then stands up straight, Sparkle lights up, and the rest of the tree’s lights illuminate to reveal ornaments. “We hope the special lift you get this holiday season lasts all year long,” says a tranquil voiceover. If that isn’t exactly what “Christmas spirit” is supposed to be, we’re not sure what is.

We love this commercial because it’s cute and it made an impression on one of our people. No other reasons needed, really.

The Christmas Current

We’ve established that we highly revere the classics, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also appreciate The New Hotness™️ (trademarked by Agent J/Will Smith in the 2002 film Men in Black II).

In a recent spot that we really enjoyed, Macaulay Caulkin reprises his role as Kevin from the classic Home Alone series. An adult Kevin uses Google Home to remind him of simple tasks, add items to his shopping list, answer the front door, and even secure the entire house.

This spot made our faves list because it’s a clever way to market the product (and all of its capabilities) while evoking serious nostalgia—the spot appears to be filmed in the original house from the first movie!

And To All A Good Night

Thanks for reading about what the Westies have deemed our favorite holiday commercials. Do you have one that you think should have made our list? Let us know at whatsup@116andwest.com—maybe we’ll include it next year!