CLOSE SHAVE FOR A CHRISTMAS INSTITUTION

Return of Norelco's Santa Makes Good Marketing Sense

By Published on .

Client: Norelco
Agency: D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York
Star Rating: 3

The thing about the holidays is how we cherish the memories -- and not just the good ones, either.

Sure, there's always the thrill of little Courtney's first Christmas, and the

Santa rides a shaver head.
poignancy of Uncle Harry always buying turkeys for the poor folks in his church congregation, and that unforgettable look in young Timmy's eyes when he looked under the tree and saw his shiny, new copy of Grand Theft Auto II.

Enshrined holiday icon
But even the other stuff -- the stuff that doesn't seem so precious at the time -- becomes enshrined, ennobled and beloved in remembrance. Like when Father Joe had a little too much eggnog and puked on the cat. And when Dad kicked Junior out of the house for coming home from State U. with long hair and bellbottoms. And when everybody saw Mama kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe while Dad was at the 7-Eleven picking up ice.

It all eventually triggers nostalgia, that sweet ache of reminiscence.

Even that damned Santa on a Norelco.

For 30 years -- from 1961 to 1991 -- that idiotic St. No-Nicks sledded down a cartoon hill on the business end of an electric shaver and barreled into the snowdrift of our Christmas consciousness.

Crude, crass and lovable
The animation was crude. The message was crass. Even the music -- a jingle too cheap to be the actual "Jingle Bells" -- was unsatisfying. Yet there he sledded, year after year, until he finally became a fixture among the holiday trappings, like Aunt Priscilla's inedible fruitcake

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and the crappy plastic angel that still goes atop the tree because, gosh, it always has.

And along the way, this kitschy commercial made a Norelco shaver a Christmas-gift institution. Let's just repeat that: It sold shavers, made the product itself a trapping of the holiday and wormed its cheesy little way into our hearts. Or, more to the point into their hearts -- women's hearts, the hearts of the people who actually manufacture the fruit cakes, and wear the Christmas sweaters and get all teary-eyed as they lash yard waste to the banister. They're the ones buying the shavers, and they're the ones with a warm spot for that goofy little treasure.

So then, after 30 years of cultivating women with sleighing Santa, someone at Norelco had the bright idea of slaying Santa, and off our TVs he went for the last 11 years.

Forget the "Ho! Ho! Ho!" How about, "Oy, oy, oy."

The real 'Jingle Bells'
Look, there's no point agonizing over Santa Norelco's lost decade. For all we know he was at the Betty Ford Center. What counts is that the good folks at D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York -- themselves about to sled off into oblivion -- have had the good sense to resurrect him. And, this time the jingle is "Jingle Bells" (slightly reworded to be more electric-shaver-intensive.)

His cheeks are rough. His chin is tough. It's full of nicks and cuts/
You'd better trade that razor blade before you both go nuts/
Have no fear. The Spectra's here to shave his face with care/
It's much more fun to kiss someone with a face that's got no hair.

Oh, yeah. This is for the Norelco Spectra, which is just a fancy new name for the improved Norelco Every Previous Version. But this isn't about new. It's about old. Old ideas. Old memories. Old friends. And old-fashioned common sense.

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