H&M has hired the perfect celebrity endorser for its over-the-top, candy-coated holiday spectacular: Katy Perry.
The pop star and walking acid flashback anchors a new two-minute commercial for the clothing chain, grinning and prancing through every imaginable Christmas trope while her new single, "Every Day Is a Holiday," plays in the background.
Perry is a natural fit for the ad's gaudy, upbeat tone. She opens with her best fairy godmother impression, rounding out the role with manically wide eyes before shapeshifting through other costumes as the ad progresses. Her backup dancers are dressed as gingerbread men, nutcrackers, snowflakes, elves, reindeer, Rockettes, candy canes and Christmas trees, to name a few.
The song itself, a disco soul mashup, isn't exactly about Christmas. Like most broad pop records, it's about love, and the holidays are just a convenient metaphor (also traditionally good for selling records).
But ironically—or perhaps just unconvincingly—the lyrics include an anti-materialistic streak: "Don't need a thing under the tree," Perry sings as teddy bears in ugly sweaters dance around stacks of giant presents. "You give me all that I need."
Regardless, the general theme is topical, and most people will just hear the hook: "Every day is a holiday ... when you're the reason to celebrate." For eye candy, we even get a glimpse of the guy to whom Perry is supposedly referring: A shirtless hunk rolls out, posed on the hood of a car.
That casting is particularly savvy. The model, it turns out, is Sean O'Pry, who also appeared in Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" video. Thus, the H&M spot capitalizes on the public feud between the pop divas—marketing genius in its own right.
The campaign's title, "Happy & Merry," is another clever play on the fact that nobody really knows (or cares) what H&M stands for. (The answer, Hennes & Mauritz, is far less evocative, at least for English speakers: "Hennes" means "hers" in Swedish, and "Mauritz" is a name.)
In a behind-the-scenes interview, Perry is similarly bubbly in her praise of director Jonas Åkerlund, who has shot music videos for a who's who of big-name acts that include Beyoncé, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Madonna, U2 and more.
The whole production—from the relentlessly bright visuals to its shimmering track—is a bit like getting punched in the face with a fistful of glitter. But lots of folks are into that sort of thing. For the grinches eager to run for the hills, there's always this more honest Christmas ad, which makes a good palate cleanser.