Plan B Introduces ‘The Ad Agency Elf on the Shelf’

The folks over at Chicago agency Plan B crafted their own sarcastic take on the The Elf on the Shelf, “The Ad Agency Elf on the Shelf,” for the agency’s holiday card/

As might be expected, the ad agency elf is a little more ornery than his non-agency brethren, while also showing a taste for alcohol. Rather than spying on children to find out who’s naughty and nice, he instead keeps tabs on agency taboos. He calls out one employee for texting during a meeting, an intern for looking at a picture of a kitten on Facebook — “What client job are you going to bill that to, huh?” he asks — and a group creative director who “can make a big TV commercial but can’t make a pot of coffee.” As often as not, The Ad Agency Elf on the Shelf comes across as creepy (which I guess shouldn’t come as a surprise), and on more than one occasion pushes things well past uncomfortable into cringe territory. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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Dick’s Asks Strangers to Play with its Balls

Anomaly continues to “Spread Love” for Dick’s Sporting Goods, launching its “Holiday Hoops” extension of its “Gifts That Matter” campaign today on “Giving Tuesday.”

The ad follows on the heels of this heart-tugging spot and similarly explores how a basketball hoop can bring people together. This time around, though, Anomaly employs a “social experiment film” documenting people’s reactions when they leave basketball hoops, and a tray of balls with a “Play with me” sign, at various locations around Cleveland, Los Angeles and New York City. Naturally, the hoops caused strangers to bond over pick up games and Anomaly captured their genuine enthusiasm for the spot.

The video, however, is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Dick’s “Spread Love” charitable initiative. Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love teamed up with The Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation today to surprise over 200 students at Scranton Elementary School in Cleveland with two new basketball hoops. The brand defines “Holiday Hoops” as a “‘pay it forward’ movement” which will ultimately donate over 100 hoops to organizations (all either schools or non-profits) across the country. Dick’s will select two such organizations every day, and then give them the chance to “pay if forward” to two of their own choosing, announcing the participants on social media with the #HolidayHoops hashtag.

“This holiday season, we wanted to enhance our “Gift That Matters” campaign by exploring the unique power a basketball hoop has to unite people and communities,” said Lauren Hobart, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Dick’s Sporting Goods and president of The Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation. “We believe that sports really do matter and Dick’s Foundation is thrilled to be able to provide 100 hoops to schools and communities across America.”

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BBH London Champions Sharing for KFC

BBH London tells the story of “The Boy Who Learnt To Share” for KFC in a 60-second holiday spot for the brand.

The ad shows the selfish nature of a young boy who refuses to share. He hogs up all the snow when making snowmen with his sister, won’t share an umbrella with his mother, writes his name on all the Christmas presents and, when cast as one of the wise men in a Christmas pageant, he won’t even give a gift to the baby Jesus. When the family gets KFC he initially holds his arms around an entire bucket, declaring it for himself. But when he sees the rest of the family happily sharing the rest of the meal, he finally decides to share, offering his sister a drumstick.

The whole “learning to share” angle is not a bad approach for a heartwarming holiday spot, and the spot is mostly put together well, but there’s one problem I can’t seem to get over with this one. At no point in the ad do we see the parents actually try to teach their son to share, something he should presumably have learned at least a little about from them. Instead, the parents seem to just ignore his bad behavior as if there’s nothing they can do and let him continue to act like a little snot. Wouldn’t the boy finally learning to share mean more if they had made attempts to teach him before? Understandably the spot is attempting to show KFC as the catalyst for the revelation, but this comes across as a bit random and forced since viewers aren’t really presented a window into his motivations or given the impression that the parents have done anything to try to change the son’s behavior.

“The Boy Who Learnt To Share” is supported by a social campaign in which KFC is calling on fans to tweet using the hashtag #KFCSharesies for the chance to participate in a campaign challenge and win a prize. (more…)

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M&C Saatchi Examines ‘Christmas at Home’ for The Silver Line

M&C Saatchi created a holiday spot called “Christmas at Home” for The Silver Line, “The only free 24 hour confidential for older people that offers friendship and support.”

The ad tells the story of an older man who wakes up on Christmas day and appears to be preparing for his family to arrive. He gets dressed and tidies up, the ad cuts to a family on the phone with relatives saying “We’ll be there soon, put the kettle on” as the man brews some tea. Then the family knocks on a door and the ad reveals that it the man’s next door neighbor receiving the visit, as he looks out the window dejected. It’s a clever way to put viewers in the man’s shoes and give an idea of the devastation he feels rather than just telling them about the cause. The ad ends with the message, “More than a million older people in the UK suffer the pain of loneliness, not just at Christmas but all year round.” While this is true, the message is likely to resonate with people all the more during the holidays.

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EVB, Victors & Spoils Give ‘The Gift of Giving’ for JCPenney

EVB and Victors & Spoils give “The Gift of Giving” in a holiday campaign for JCPenney which asks shoppers to give a gift to a complete stranger.

Filmed last month in JCPenney stores in Illinois and Indiana the video follows as customers are told to find someone in the store to give a gift to. That person then travels with them around the store and together they pick out a gift, with JC Penney picking up the tab. The gifts range from jeans and a jacket to a sofa and even an engagement ring as participants engage in tearful signs of appreciation and hugs. It’s designed to be a heartwarming affirmation that giving is better than receiving; in other words, the polar opposite of Harvey Nichols’ cynical “Could I Be Any Clearer?” spot from adam&eveDDB.

“The idea of having to give something to a complete stranger can be very scary,” JCPenney CMO Debra Berman told Adweek. “And it’s that vulnerability that made this experiment so real and interesting. It brought out emotions in both the giver and the receiver.”

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Publicis Wishes You ‘Merry Beeping Christmas from Oral-B’

Publicis London turns to beeped out cursing in its irreverent holiday ad for Oral-B, entitled, “Merry Beeping Christmas from Oral-B.”

The spot opens on a woman stepping on an angel ornament while tip-toeing around the house barefoot carrying presents. She lets out a few bleeped out choice words, and quickly we’re on our way to the next profanity-inducing situation. These scenarios run the gamut from ugly sweaters to cooking accidents and trouble with the lights but each result in an expected torrent of profanity. The ad ends with the tagline “At least you don’t have to worry about your smile,” accompanied by the Oral-B logo. It may be a bit of a stretch, but tying oral care to the holidays isn’t the easiest proposition in the world and the spot is fun and clever enough to fit in with other cheeky holiday ads we’ve seen this year from brands in the UK. (more…)

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CHI&Partners Celebrates Holiday “#ColourInvasion” for Carphone Warehouse

CHI&Partners launched a new holiday campaign for Carphone Warehouse enititled “#ColourInvasion” promoting the large number of color exclusives available in its stores for the holiday season.

The spot is set in a dark, gloomy seaside town that (as you may have guessed from the title) receives a sudden invasion of color. That color arrives courtesy of a group of bikers, all decked out in colorful clothing to create a kind of motorcycle chain rainbow. Keeping things on the minimalist side, the spot lets the color speak for itself, without any intrusion from voiceover. The campaign is running online on Carphone Warehouse’s YouTubeFacebook and Twitter channels, as well as the brand’s online content hub, The Lowdown. Yesterday the rband also launched a competioon across its social channels, affording customers the opportunity to win an “exclusively colored handset every day for two weeks” and the chance to win a grand prize of a Harley Davidson 883 Matte Black Roadster.

“The work is an epic, vibrant, dollop of colour hitting Britain’s shores with impact,” said Rob Webster and Alexei Berwitz, creative directors at CHI&Partners, in a press release. “Here, the team have created a campaign which is as joyously simple as the brief that inspired it.” (more…)

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JWT Redefines Rockwell for Tylenol

JWT uses the Norman Rockwell painting “Freedom From Want” as a springboard to examine the modern American family in its spot for Tylenol launching the brand’s “For What Matters Most” campaign.

“Normal Rockwell painted America’s story for sixty-plus years,” begins Abigail Rockwell — Norman’s granddaughter — at the beginning of the ad before remarking on how “our definition of family is expanding.” The ad then asks, “What would a Norman Rockwell holiday look like today?” before answering with three families as examples. There’s the Japanese Yee Hoshida family, who view the hot pot served for dinner as metaphor of the blending of cultures and generations that go in to a modern family; the blended family Beser Carr Schneider Musich, who “happen to be four parents trying to raise our children”; and the African American Garza family, whose eyebrow ring-wearing grandmother serves up Cornish hens rather than the traditional turkey for Thanksgiving. All three families describe what makes them unique and “what matters most,” with each, of course, pointing to family. It’s all, of course, very sentimental, which is only appropriate given the Rockwell connection.

The spot saw a soft release on Thanksgiving, and JWT released a separate video for the Yee Hoshida family on Tuesday (featured after the jump). Videos for the other two families will roll out soon for the holiday season. The videos mark the launch of JWT’s “Freedom From Want” campaign for the brand, which Manoj Raghunandanan, senior director on the Tylenol business, told AdAge “presage a broader media effort in 2015.”

Raghunandanan told that publication that the campaign “reflects serving our consumers and how unique and diverse they are,” and that he didn’t worry about a conservative backlash over the ad’s depiction of a blended family which includes a lesbian couple.

“If you look at what we’ve stood for as a brand, it’s always been so much more than pain relief,” he added. “Caring for people and going beyond their pain is what makes Tylenol Tylenol.” (more…)

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‘Santa Flies Coach’ in 180 LA’s Holiday Effort for Expedia

180 LA crafted a holiday effort for Expedia entitled “Santa Flies Coach,” where Kris Kringle ditches the sleigh and travels around the world via more conventional means.

Santa visits Honolulu, Tokyo, Dubai, Paris and Dublin en route to his final destination. Everywhere he goes people are, of course, delighted to see the jolly, white-bearded symbol of Christmas, but viewers may be wondering by now why exactly Santa has ditched his sleigh. The spot takes a heartwarming turn with that reveal as Santa arrives at his final destination: “For one week Santa flew around the world, because now the points we earn traveling can be donated to St. Jude Children’s Hospital” appears onscreen as Santa visits patients at the hospital. It’s a heartwarming message, made all the more so by its unexpectedness in the wake of the cheery beginning of the ad. And the reveal, rather than feeling cheap, offers a satisfactory explanation furthering our understanding of what preceded it. A lot of holiday efforts shoot for this kind of feeling, but few attempt to actually motivate viewers toward specific charitable action, which makes “Santa Flies Coach” all the more admirable. (more…)

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Le Bureau Tells You Not to Buy Shit for Red Cross Sweden

Swedish agency Le Bureau teamed up with Seattle-based animation studio The Academy’s Swedish collective known as Brikk to create a two minute PSA for Red Cross Sweden.

The ad tries to convince Swedes to give Red Cross parcels to those in need for Christmas, rather than buying something they won’t even remember next year. Or, as Brikk puts it, “We together with Red Cross think that a food package to Syria is a better Christmas gift than a fitness band, and that’s what we are trying to communicate in the animation.”

To accomplish this, the animation highlights just how many gifts are forgotten, or even sold secondhand online after the holiday season. “Don’t buy thoughtless presents for the ones you care for, buy something special that shows they mean more,” says the spot’s rhyming narrator, positing Red Cross gifts as the answer. Near the end of the PSA he gets a little more direct, saying, “…this year don’t buy shit, make an active choice.” The candidness is refreshing, and should get more people to share what otherwise could have been a very dry message. (more…)

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Grey London Creates Adorable ‘Christmas Choir’ for McVitie’s

Grey London created one of the more off-the-wall Christmas spots you’ll see this year with “Christmas Choir,” promoting McVitie’s Victoria cookies.

In the spot, a family sits around on a sleepy holiday evening when the father decides to open up a box of McVitie’s biscuits. Upon opening the container, a chorus of tiny, adorable animals begins barking, meowing, quacking and otherwise vocalizing to the tune of 80s hit “Only You” by Yaz. The chorus of cuddly critters is, clearly, meant to evoke the happiness evoked by digging in to a box of McVitie’s (in this case punctuating a case of holiday doldrums), but that’s not important right now. What’s important is that around the 44 second mark a tiny narwhal whale emerges from the depths of a punch bowl. For that, Grey London, we thank you. (more…)

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Santa Ditches the Sleigh and Flies Coach in Expedia's Heartwarming Christmas Ad

The sleigh is overrated.

Santa Claus ditches it entirely in Expedia’s touching Christmas campaign from 180LA, choosing instead to fly coach around the world and ending up at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, where he delivers presents to some very special kids.

As seen in the video below, Santa traveled 19,602 miles over seven days (49.7 hours of flight time), going from the North Pole via Anchorage through Honolulu, Tokyo, Dubai, Paris, Dublin, New York City, and finally to Memphis, where he hands out gifts—and also donates all the points he earned on flights to St. Jude, which is the selling point here.

“Santa flies around the world every year for children, so we loved the connection of giving him travel points to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” says Vic Walia, senior director of brand marketing at Expedia.

“More people travel during the holidays than any other time of year. We hope this campaign will encourage people to donate their Expedia+ rewards points to St. Jude, considering how quickly they can add up during this busy travel season.”

More at and the hashtag #SantaFliesCoach.

Client: Expedia
Spot: “Santa Flies Coach”
Senior Director, Brand Marketing: Vic Walia
Brand Marketing Manager: Jessica Eichner
Media Director: Elizabeth Dorrance

Agency: 180LA
Chief Creative Officer: William Gelner
Creative Directors: Dave Horton, Matthew Woodhams-Roberts
Art Director: Chelsea Cumings
Copywriter: Trey Tyler
Head of Production: Natasha Wellesley
Executive Producer: Erin Goodsell
Producer: Amber Schaefer
Head of Account Management: Chad Bettor
Account Director: Brooke Stites
Account Manager: Mackenzie Walen
Account Coordinator: Chase Pritchett

Production Company: Ghost Robot
Directors: Dave Horton, Nick Bentgen
Director of Photography: Nick Bentgen
Executive Producers: Mark DePace, Zach Mortensen

Editorial Company: Melvin
Editor: Dave Groseclose
Producer: Brian Scharwath

Company: Therapy Studios 
Executive Producer: Joe DiSanto, John Ramsay
Senior Producer: Allegra Bartlett
Flame Artist:  Wren Waters
Flame Assist: Geoff Stephenson
Recording Studio: Eleven Sound
Mixer: Ben Freer

Original Music by human

M&C Saatchi Celebrates ‘Twinkling Lights’ for UGG Australia

M&C Saatchi LA has launched a global holiday campaign for UGG Australia, centered around the 60-second broadcast spot “Twinkling Lights” promoting the brand’s holiday collection.

The spot features what appears to be a large group of women dressed in identical white outfits performing a choreographed dance routine, with the dancers dropping twinkling lights to create a snowflake pattern. In reality, only eight dancers were used in the making of the video, with those dancers digitally duplicated to give the impression that there’s a larger group. The ad, which channels a kind of throwback vibe with its choreographed spectacle and unfettered holiday cheeriness, ends with the tagline, “This is magic. This is UGG.”

“We really wanted to tap into the spirit of the season, the emotional connections that people have around the holidays and how UGG figures into that equation,” explained Nancy Mamann, vice president, global marketing, UGG Australia. “We really think that this multi-channel campaign epitomizes our brand positioning and highlights the beautiful holiday product we have this season in a campaign that is both premium and engaging.”

The global campaign featuring “Twinkling Lights” is rolling out in markets including the US, Canada, France, UK, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany and Italy, with a second spot entitled “Passing Out Presents” set to break later in the season. Aside from the digital ads, the campaign includes a social element encompassing a shoppable gift guide on Instagram and “additional content stories that speak to the season and themes of the broader campaign across Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter,” as well as OOH and in-store components.

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R/GA Toasts the Holidays for Bailey’s

R/GA London rolled out a digital holiday campaign for Bailey’s, an extension of the brand’s global “Here’s To Us” campaign targeting millenial women, created by BBH London.

The digital extension celebrates getting together with friends — whether it’s going out and trying new places, as in “Here’s To Getting Together” (above), or staying in and hanging out, as in “Here’s To Staying In” (after the jump). Both videos, which launched in the UK last month and are now rolling out across Europe, feature montages of quick shots which together tell the story of a night with friends. In “Here’s To Getting Together” it’s “trying new places,” “catching up… on everything,” waiting for that one friend who’s always late and having just one more side dish. Each spot ends with the group of women toasting with a glass or shot of Bailey’s, implying the brand is part of the perfect evening.

In addition to the online spots there is also a campaign Tumblr page functioning as part of “a unique influencer campaign featuring women such as Daisy Lowe and blogger Eleanora Carisi.” The influencer campaign will include editorial interviews, Instagram content creation, and cocktails created by Daisy Lowe (UK), Jessica Weiss (Germany, of Journelles Blog) and Eleanora Carisi (Italy, of JouJou Villeroy blog) alongside “London Mixology icon” Missy Flynn.

“Our ambition is to create unique online content that captures the magic you feel when you’re with your best girlfriends and inspires women to raise a toast to each other with,” explains Dawn Allison, global digital marketing manager, Baileys, in a press release, adding that the campaign “marks a critical phase in our journey to re-ignite performance by putting consumer behaviour – serve and occasion – at the heart of every brand execution.” (more…)

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Saturday London Brings Together Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett for H&M

Saturday London enlisted Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett for a new, glitzy holiday ad for H&M which doubles as a promotion of the pair’s album Cheek to Cheek, which was released in September.

The spot, entitled “Magical Holidays” features a Gatsby-esque holiday party,with Bennett and Gaga (decked out in a Cher wig) performing a duet version of the Duke Ellington/Irving Mills-penned Jazz standard “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Don’t Got That Swing)” while a room full of party-goers dances. “Magical Holidays” arrives at, and later departs from, the party scene in a strange, surreal way that does, indeed, seem to imply some holiday magic (just don’t try to make much sense of it). Fans of Gaga and Bennett (who, we imagine, are mostly separated by a few years) should enjoy the duo’s performance which also functions to drive album sales for the holiday season, and H&M should be able to count on winning over some Gaga fans by association. (more…)

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CP+B Lays Out ‘The Rules of Underwear Giving’ for Fruit of the Loom

Ever wonder who it is and is not okay to give underwear to as a holiday present? Well, CP+B has got you covered in its new holiday spot for Fruit of the Loom, entitled “The Rules of Underwear Giving.”

“There are some people you should give underwear to this holiday,” the spot begins, showing a couple appreciatively exchanging pairs of Fruit of the Loom, both far happier than anyone has ever been to receive underwear. “And there are some people you shouldn’t,” the ad goes on, showing a disgruntled mailman shaking his head. The tongue-in-cheek formula continues for the remainder of the 30-second broadcast spot, reminding you that maybe it’s not the best idea to buy underwear for your boss, teacher, doorman or a police officer, ending with the tagline, “You shouldn’t give underwear to everybody, but for those you do, give them Fruit of the Loom.”

CP+B’s humorous approach is a welcome change in underwear advertising, and manages to be jokey about the holidays while also promoting the product as a holiday gift. In fact, while no one is going to be overjoyed about unwrapping a present and finding Fruit of the Loom, they glamorize the idea a bit by pointing out that it’s a gift you would only give to someone with whom you have a close relationship. Not a bad way to make gifting unmentionables seem appealing.

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Droga5 Hits Home with Harrowing PSA for KidsCo

Droga5 Europe created what very well may be the most depressing advertisement this holiday season with a 90-second PSA for KidsCo, a children’s charity founded by Camila Batmanghelidjh which plans to host “the UK’s biggest children’s community Christmas dinner ever.” The spot broke yesterday, and will air on broadcast, in cinemas and online.

The ad stands in stark contrast to the glitzy Christmas advertisements glamorizing the holiday in the UK. Willfully minimalistic, it depicts a boy who wakes up and get dressed, with the text “Thursday” appearing onscreen. He plays in the street a bit and then goes to the corner store, eyes up a rack of candy bars and leaves without making a purchase. Walking back home he passes a house lit up with Christmas lights, and we hear a group exchange holiday greetings, the first mention in the ad that it is, in fact, Christmas day (which explains why the streets are so empty). He then returns home, to a neglecting looking living room and switches on the television as the message, “For some children, Christmas Day will just be another Thursday” appears on screen, driving home the message.

“Kidsco is an amazing charity doing incredible work for thousands of children across the UK,” said Droga5 Executive Creative Director Nik Studzinski. “With this ad we deliberately wanted something that would be a genuine pause for reflection among the noise of the super-bowl style ads that clamour for our attention at this time of year.” (more…)

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RPA Rolls Out ‘Happy Honda Days’ Social Extension

RPA has launched a social extension of its “Happy Honda Days” campaign, which launched last month featuring nostalgic toys of yesteryear.

The new extension consists of three new videos featuring Skeletor and He-Man, Jem and G.I. Joe, and Gumby and Pokey. The extension was launched yesterday with Skeletor taking over Honda’s Twitter account. Each duo sings a new version of a classic Christmas song (except for Gumby and Pokey, because they don’t know any Christmas songs) and calls on viewers to vote for their rendition. Honda will donate a total of $100,000 to three charities – Children’s Hospital of Orange County, the Little League Urban Initiative and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation — with $50,000 going to the charity associated with the winning video and the other two receiving $25,000 each.

In the most amusing of the three videos, Skeletor sings of his newfound bromance with He-Man to a rendition of “Jingle Bells,” which has been rechristened “Jingle Bros.” According to Skeletor, the duo are now Facebook friends and even got matching tattoos, although it ends with a not-so-surprising twist. In the other videos, G.I. Joe wins over Gem with some Kung Fu moves, and Gumby and Pokey interact with random items. You can watch them on Honda’s YouTube page and vote for your favorite (or just for the associated charity you’d most like to receive money). We’ve included “Jingle Bros” above and the other two videos after the jump. (more…)

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adam&eveDDB Introduces ‘Could I Be Any Clearer?’ Christmas Cards for Harvey Nichols

Last year, adam&eveDDB’s “Sorry, I Spent It On Myself” holiday campaign for English department store Harvey Nichols turned heads with its ode to utter selfishness, eventually winning four Grand Prix awards at Cannes.

This year, adam&eveDDB is back with a spiritual successor entitled “Could I Be Any Clearer?” In the spot, a woman talks about her beloved Auntie Val and how, while good-intentioned, she always gives disappointing gifts. So, without any worry at all about Val’s feelings, she gives her a card describing exactly what she wants — Charlotte Olympia silver Octavia sandals from Harvey Nichols — and lets her know that seasons greetings will be “very awkward” if she doesn’t get what she wants. Auntie Val, predictably enough, looks pretty annoyed by the card. Like last year, the campaign extends beyond the broadcast spots, with real life “Could I Be Any Clearer?” cards available to purchase at Harvey Nichols. You can even create your customizable version online.

The ad doesn’t have the same impact as its predecessor, and, because of that ad, its reveal moment is entirely expected. Still, we imagine that Harvey Nichols will sell its share of “Could I Be Any Clearer?” cards — hopefully to those looking for a cheeky gag to play on friends, rather than entitled jerks. (more…)

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Grab a Tissue and Watch How WestJet Created a Christmas Miracle for Struggling Families

WestJet does the holidays right. Last year, the Canadian airline surprised its passengers with gifts at the baggage carousel; a lovely spot and a tearjerker for sure. Now WestJet has me sniffling yet again, this time with surprises for residents of a village in the Dominican Republic.

Families sit in a blue sleigh, talking to Santa via video chat, telling him what they want for Christmas. WestJet employees then race to buy gifts (locally!), and present them at a party on the beach (with snow). This time, the gifts aren’t just flat-screen TVs and cameras; they also include practical and much-needed items like a washing machine, a motorcycle engine and a horse—enabling locals in the community of Nuevo Renacer to provide for their families. WestJet even built a small playground for the local children to use long after the visit was over.

It’s lovely and endearing, and for those who will say this is simply a calculated marketing tactic, shhh shhhhh, just enjoy it and let the brand have its moment. Pluses to note, I think, are that this “stunt” happened in a country where WestJet isn’t readily available (unlike Canada), and that their local purchases helped support the area’s economy.

Ahh, WestJet, I love you. Now send me tissues.