For telecom brands, holidays are a somewhat delicate time of year. One the one hand, it's family time, and perhaps not the moment for sharing everything on social media and being glued to your smartphone. (Last year, an ad from Verizon even suggested we switch off our phones for the hoildays.) On the other, the reality is that people will still use technology on these occasions.
Apple made an attempt at getting the balance right in 2013, with its much-praised Misunderstood spot. Now, in a new holiday campaign, Comcast's Xfinity brand taps into its own research-based insight -- millennials' holiday FOMO, or their dread of being in a "dead zone" at their relatives' houses. The campaign also adds an element of authenticity by featuring real-life seniors and their grandchildren.
The spot, by 72andSunny New York, kicks off with grammies and grandpas reading out tweets from young people about the fears. "I'm going to Grandma's house where there's no On Demand, no Netflix and no Wi-Fi," goes the typical complaint. Another one describes going to Grandma's house as "entering the gates of hell."
Matthew Frost at Iconoclast, known for his humorous films for Vogue featuring celebrities, directs the spot, with trademark comedic touches -- younger viewers will love the way these tweets are read out, for example when they say "pound sign" for hashtag.
The tweets themselves are real -- actual real-life social posts found on Twitter as people went to visit grandparents for the holidays -- as are the seniors reading them out.
Xfinity then steps in, hooking up the grandsparents to WiFi and on-demand TV, to the delight of their families, including skeptical teenage grandkids. A moody teen girl ends up Instagramming photos of her grandma, and everyone is happy.
According to Xfinity's Vice President, Brand Marketing, Todd Arata, the campaign was inspired by consumer insights that showed there's a widely held misconception that seniors aren't as up to speed with the latest technology. However, he explained: "What we found through our customer research is that a vast majority of seniors use our suite of products. With that, we wanted to create a fun spot that made Grandma and Grandpa the hero for the holidays, decking their halls with super-fast wi-fi, voice-controlled TV and our X1 platform."
He added: "Our rationale for casting and featuring a real family in the creative was to capture authentic, heart-felt moments that many can relate to during the holiday season as well as showcase how technology fits into that larger picture."
Mr. Arata admitted: "There is something to becoming 'disconnected' or switching off devices during the holidays, but we wanted to reinforce the reality that technology also has the power to bring people together."