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Ad of the Day: Chatbooks' Harried Mom Returns in 2016's Most Honest Holiday Ad Yet


How does a real mom tackle the holidays? By hiding from the kids behind a locked door, huffing cocoa powder, reliving last year's epic gift fails and using crumpled wrapping paper as Kleenex.

There must be a better way, says this new ad from photo subscription app Chatbooks, which hawk its gift service by bringing back the harried but hilarious spokeswoman it introduced in October.

Real Mom, as she's now known, tries for only a split second to suggest she has the perfect life. (Well, she does on Pinterest.) The truth is much closer to "a hot mess of shame," says the character, pitch perfectly played again by actress-comedian Lisa Valentine Clark as the matriarch on a mission to win Christmas.

She'll do so, and become everyone's favorite relative, by ordering Chatbooks, she says in the sequel to the startup's debut ad, which snagged 30 million views in six weeks. The campaign comes from the Harmon Brothers, the Utah-based viral video mavens who also produced mega-hit digital videos for Squatty Potty, FiberFix, Purple and Poo-Pourri.

There was no doubt Real Mom would return, says Rachel Hofstetter, CMO at Chatbooks, as she's become the melodramatic (yet pragmatic) face of the young brand.

"To us, she's like a new favorite TV show, and you can't wait for the next episode," Hofstetter says. "We plan to do a lot more. It'll be like Star Wars."

The initial Harmon Brothers video, the first advertising for the app, brought in unprecedented numbers of new customers, says Hofstetter, though she declined to cite specifics for the privately held company. Chatbooks recouped its video production costs within days, she said.

The holiday video will roll out in social media, including paid pushes on Facebook and YouTube. It re-emphasizes the no-fuss quality of the service: It compiles smartphone, Facebook and Instagram pics into photo books and delivers them automatically. Adding Grandma, Grandpa and others as gift recipients gives them the same books, so they can experience your family "from a distance, with pretty filters," Real Mom says.

"We kicked off by telling moms they could get the photos off their phones with zero work," Hofstetter said. "That's 12 months a year. But the message now is that we're especially trying to make December easy for them."

That comes in handy for Real Mom, because Real Dad just tumbled off the roof while hanging Christmas lights. To the ER!

Agency: Harmon Brothers
Creative Director: Daniel Harmon
Agency Managing Director: Benton Crane
Art Director: Chris Kelly
Account Director: Shane Rickard
Writers: Whitney Meek, Mallory Everton, Daniel Harmon
Director: A. Todd Smith
Executive Producer: Shane Rickard
Producer and 1st AD: Stephen Meek
Lead Actor: Lisa Valentine Clark
Jeffrey: Kimball Stinger
Sarah: Eliza Deazevedo
Tyler: Kenyon Stinger
Director of Photography: Jacob Schwarz
Editor: Kaitlin Snow
Digital Effects: Mike Henderson, Josh Badger, Scott Meyer
Illustration: Brett Crockett
Sound: Dave Adamic

CEO: Nate Quigley
Co-Founders: Nate and Vanessa Quigley
Director of Marketing & Retail Relations: Rachel Hofstetter
Creative Director: Matt Mildenstein

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