AT&T analyzes influencers’ reactions to holiday gifts in festive social experiment

Unconventional holiday campaign from Giant Spoon taps behavioral analyst Bedros ‘Spidey’ Akkelian

Published On
Dec 14, 2023
A still of Bedros “Spidey” Akkelian and Alexandra Madison together from AT&T's holiday commercial.

Editor's Pick

Picking out the perfect gift for a loved one is a major source of holiday anxiety. But according to AT&T, lying to that person’s face about how much you “love” the present they gave you can be just as stressful, if not more so.

For a holiday social media campaign, AT&T and agency Giant Spoon veered away from the trope of partners lovingly exchanging gifts on Christmas morning to instead focus on the awkwardness of trying to conjure up the appropriate reaction to receiving a not-so-perfect present. The telecom landed on that unconventional theme after stumbling upon a surprising metric, said Valerie Vargas, SVP of advertising and marketing for AT&T—71% of people have lied and told someone they liked a holiday gift that they didn’t truly want. 

AT&T’s “The Holidays Unwrapped” campaign tests the validity of that statistic through a social experiment with a holiday coat of paint, conducted in partnership with two of the company’s athlete partners and two digital creators new to AT&T’s influencer marketing network, Vargas said.

With Giant Spoon, they recruited Bedros “Spidey” Akkelian, a behavioral analyst and mentalist with roughly 1.5 million followers across social media, to analyze the body language of influencer Alexandra Madison, pro golfer Tisha Alyn and former college basketball and track athlete Anthony Hamilton, Jr., as they unwrap a series of holiday gifts from their respective romantic partners.



A post shared by AT&T (@att)


In the video with Madison and her husband Jon Bouffard, for example, Akkelian picks up on Madison subconsciously avoiding eye contact with her husband while reassuring him she loves the car sun visor he gifted her. He also notes Madison was genuinely excited to open Bouffard’s gifts of a Samsung Galaxy tablet and smartwatch, as shown by her jaw literally dropping and eyebrows raising in delight.


Similarly, in Alyn’s video, Akkelian points out her rapid blinking after unwrapping a pair of scuba fins from her girlfriend and feigning excitement about the gift, which Akkelian says is a subconscious behavior in high-stress moments.


With this campaign, AT&T sought to “break through the retail noise” of the holidays and present itself to Gen Z and millennial consumers in “a lighthearted and fun way,” while also highlighting the phones, tablets and other electronic devices the company sells but that those younger consumers “might not think of us for,” Vargas said. 

AT&T works with influencers on a “regular cadence” and has sponsored both Alyn and Hamilton Jr. in the past, she added. Giant Spoon brought Akkelian to her attention when the company was seeking someone who could play the role of the “revealer,” pointing out which gifts influencers truly disliked, she said. 


The three-episode video series will run on Instagram and TikTok on AT&T’s owned channels and those of the influencers, Vargas said. AT&T released a teaser for the series on Tuesday and will post the remaining videos over the next five days.