Amazon’s lovely 2023 holiday ad once again proves less is more

Three lifelong friends, a Beatles song, no dialogue—and an ode to sharing the simple joys in life

Published On
Nov 06, 2023
Three elderly women sitting on a bench in a park in winter

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As holiday advertising has gotten more Super Bowl-like, many of the spots have gone for sheer spectacle over simple storytelling. But this year, Amazon rediscovers the joy of simplicity with a touching, beautifully made spot about the joy of sharing.

The less said about the spot before you watch it, the better. Its story about three lifelong friends is wonderfully told, with a perfect use of a cover of the Beatles track “In My Life.”


The spot was made in-house at Amazon, and directed by Wayne McClammy at Hungry Man.

“This year’s Christmas campaign is inspired by our Amazon customers and their thoughtful ideas and traditions,” said Jo Shoesmith, global chief creative officer at Amazon. “The stories we tell serve as a reminder that sometimes the joy you receive from doing something special, for those you love, can uplift us all at this time of year.”

We’ve seen holiday campaigns that focus on older people—most notably, the John Lewis “Man on the Moom” film by Kim Gehrig in 2015. But this one is special partly because it doesn’t trade in pity or sentimentality at all. As nostalgic as it is, it’s also about friendships that endure into the present day.

“Nostalgia in older age can often be framed as something overly sentimental that you yearn for, so I feel immensely proud that we were able to flip that narrative on its head and tell a story of three women, who don’t just relive memories, but make new ones,” said Maya Waterman, the lead actress in “Joy Ride.” “I hope audiences of all ages relate to that feeling of shared joy.”

“At our age, it’s not uncommon to be typecast,” added Annie O’Donnell, who plays one of the friends. “And while I will happily play the role of someone’s sweet grandmother, it is always exciting to be able to show a different side—an opportunity to shake of preconceptions and show we are not just ‘young at heart’ but still throwing ourselves into life.” 

Amazon tends to rise of the occasion when it comes to spots for high-profile moments. Its 2023 Super Bowl commercial, also made in-house and directed by McClammy, was a highlight of the game. And its holiday spots tend to be memorable, too—among our favorites was the 2016 spot with the vicar and imam exchanging gifts.

“Joy Ride” will run through the end of December across broadcast TV, VOD, online video and social.