This season, it seems brands have been leveraging disappointment over trite gifts to highlight how extraordinary their own offerings are. Spirits subscription platform Flaviar, for example, is selling crappy tchotchkes in disguise and now, AT&T is tapping into the conventions of boring Christmas ads to make its phones and network look extra special.
A new campaign from BBDO L.A. and Critical Mass directed by comedy pro Jonathan Krisel ("Portlandia," "Tim and Eric Awesome Show") features parodies of typical “magical” holiday ad tropes—the car surprise, the precious jewelry presentation, the coming-home-from-a-business-trip scenario. While such scenes typically culminate in saccharine outbursts of joy, these turn out quite differently.
They’re all a setup to hype the phones on offer at AT&T.
“We really had to commit to these genres for the punchline to land,” said Andrew Lavery, creative director at Critical Mass in a statement. “These spots needed to immediately feel familiar and authentic to all the car, jewelry and airline holiday ads we’ve seen without giving anything away until the last minute. Then we had a little fun crushing people’s holiday spirits with thoughtless and overwhelmingly just OK gifts—because just OK is not OK, whether it’s holiday gifts or wireless networks.”