It's not yet December, but tradition and commerce require you to get in the Christmas spirit pronto. Perhaps a giant creepy Santa Claus can help?
Coca-Cola is unleashing one, whether you like it or not, in its new global holiday spot from McCann Madrid that's now rolling out in some 100 countries. Coke has a fairly robust claim to the modern-day image of Santa Claus, having been among the first companies (though not the first) to feature the red-and-white version of St. Nick in its ads, back in the 1930s. The new spot, though, while making Santa even larger than life, manages to make him less lifelike than ever.
The ad opens with the great Claus packing a giant box onto a Coke truck. The box is then delivered on Christmas Eve to a lonely girl sipping a lonely Coke in a lonely apartment in a lonely city. She runs down to the street to take a look, and the box falls open to reveal a giant Santa marionette puppet. The woman and a swarm of strangers, apparently skilled at operating such giant contraptions, jump aboard and begin to operate it—walking Santa through town, where he spreads Christmas cheer with loping strides and sinister winks.
The message is clear: When people get together at Christmas, something magical happens. "We used the device of the puppet, as it has been a storytelling device for generations," says Leandro Raposo, executive creative director at McCann Madrid. "This puppet specifically, the one Santa sends to the human race, can only come to life when everyone gathers around it to make it work. We felt it was a beautiful metaphor for Christmas of this time and age."
That may be true. Still, the puppet feels like an odd choice for Coke. Particularly at the holidays, the brand is all about pure wonder and joy, nothing more complicated than that. Giant marionettes are good at provoking the former—see all the hubbub around Target's fashion-blogging marionette Marina last year—but not so great at the latter. People are fascinated with giant puppets, but unnerved by them as well. You're not simply opening happiness with this particular present.
The spot has some great images—in particular, the closing scenes with the Christmas tree. But overall, it feels like Coke wanted to take a real-world stunt and force it into the shape of a TV spot. In the end, it feels like neither. Perhaps they should have just gone with the real thing.
Agency: McCann Madrid
Creative Directors: Leandro Raposo, Mónica Moro, Pablo Colonnese, Raquel Martínez
Art Director: Ricardo Rovira
Copywriter: Mikel Echeverría
Account Director: Lucía Guinea
Client lead: Michael Willeke
Directors: Marcus Svanberg and Linus Johanson
Production Company: Good Morning
Editor: David López
Post Production: Imasblue
Sound Design: Music Dealers, LLC