If you haven’t seen it, Kmart recently rolled out its new holiday ad. Not surprisingly, it’s gone viral. J.C. Penney wanted in on the action and started a humorous Twitter exchange between the two rivals, which also went viral. All of the banter got me thinking about some of my favorite Christmas ads of all time.
I’m the first person to complain when I start seeing Christmas decorations in stores and holiday advertisements on television before Halloween. But there’s something to be said about the impact some holiday commercials have on us emotionally, whether or not we buy those products. Like it or not, we all have our favorites, those commercials we associate with holiday seasons of past years and the memories that come with them. And of course, there are the ones we love to hate, like the ridiculous "December to Remember" Lexus commercials. But that's another list for another time. This week, let's recap my all-time favorite Christmas ads.
And here we go:
McDonald’s, "Ice Skating Christmas"
This 1983 McDonald’s ad really hit home with a lot of people because, at one time or another, weren’t we all that forgotten kid, the kid who was accidentally left out of some sort of event or celebration, only to watch everyone else having fun? OK, maybe not. But we all at least feel sorry for that kid, right? I mean, those animated animals sure do. McDonald's marketing team really tried to tug at our heartstrings. At first, it’s like, "C’mon Ronald, why you are being such a jackass, leaving that kid by himself?" But then it’s like, "Hey kid, quit feeling sorry for yourself. There are other kids who don’t even get to eat McDonald’s food. Just eat your Happy Meal and shut up." But then it’s like, "Aw, Ronald, you’re such a nice guy. You didn’t forget about that kid after all. In fact, you made him feel special." And then you think, "You know, that kid’s going to be OK. And so am I."
Folgers, "Peter Comes Home for Christmas"
Starbucks ain't got nothing on Peter. Long before Starbucks saturated the coffee market, we had to settle for Folgers. And in 1986, the mysterious Peter warmed our hearts and our coffee by surprising his parents on Christmas Day, waking them up with the smell of some Folgers. A few years later, Folgers ran an updated version of the commercial, and let me tell you, I felt a tear well up in my left eye. By the way, what was Peter doing? Where had he been all of this time? College? Drug rehab? Prison?
Coca-Cola," I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing"
Believe it or not, this song originally aired on the radio in 1971, and it failed miserably at first. But through the magic of Coca-Cola, it became a hit when paired with the soft drink product and a bunch of people standing on a hilltop. Then, in the mid-1970s, a holiday version was made and became a seasonal tradition for many years. It's also good to know that the world's most famous soda company, known for its memorable advertising campaigns over the years, has halted its ads in the Philippines so the company can redirect its entire ad budget to typhoon relief there. It's nice to know that the company practices what it preaches.
Hallmark, "Tom Comes Home"
First, it's Peter in the Folgers commercial. Now, it's Tom. Not only is this commercial incredibly long, it doesn’t inspire any emotion from me other than laughter—much like the sappy greeting cards this company sells. Hallmark has a way of pouring on the cheese in pretty much everything it does. There’s a fine line between sentimentality and cheesiness. And Hallmark crosses it every time for me. From Tommy’s turtleneck to his singing voice, it’s hard to get past the fact that Hallmark, as always, tries way too hard to make us cry. And is it just me or does Tommy look pissed off around the 1:51 mark when he comes in the door and raises his finger to hush everyone so as not to ruin the surprise? What an ass.
Target, "Crazy Black Friday Shopper"
Target has some really great advertising. And this campaign from a couple of years ago is no exception. I love how, instead of using "Eye of the Tiger" for the satirical training montage, Target went with Vince DiCola's "Training Montage" from "Rocky IV," a not-quite-so-obvious choice. It's a weird, fun poke at how obsessed we can sometimes be when it comes to shopping for our loved ones and getting the best deals. If only stores like Target didn't help encourage such behavior by opening at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
Charlie Moss writes about local history and popular culture, including music, movies and comics. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
Sign up for our email list to get your morning news delivered directly to your inbox. All we need is your email address.