Most of the Christmas ads we've seen so far from the U.S. and U.K. this year have been joyful, even if they've had some poignant moments. But the 2021 spot from German retailer Penny may have you weeping into your seasonal mulled wine, especially if you have teenage kids.
The brand has become known for its emotive ads by agency Serviceplan, all themed around childhood. Last year's featured a child imagining the world as a better place and 2019's viral ad depicted children who turn out to be adults playing in the snow. Now the retailer turns its attention to young people and the effect the pandemic has had on them.
Directed by Marcus Ibanez via Iconoclast Germany, "The Wish" centers on a mother's response to her teenage son, who asks her, "What do you really want for Christmas?"
We then see a series of scenarios, full of the frightening, angsty moments of the teenage years—and of being a parent to a teen. The son sneaks out at night, goes to parties, gets drunk, neglects his schoolwork, kisses a girl, falls in love and then gets dumped, all while the mother is on the receiving end of the turmoil.
The mom's words, at the end, reveal the spot's big twist: "I wish for you to get your youth back."
The track ends with an acoustic version of Bon Jovi's "It's my life," sung by the spot's lead actor Julius Gause.
The spot has already has struck a chord with the German population, with over 4.1 million views on YouTube since launching on Nov. 11, at a time when Covid-19 is once again soaring in the country and the government is looking to tighten legislation.
It's part of a wider campaign that includes an online competition. The prizes consist of 5000 adventures and experiences that aim to "make up for" things young people missed during the pandemic. Penny is also offering six trainee positions together with a free communal flatshare to young people.
"Young people, especially, have shown the highest level of solidarity during the pandemic and put aside their own interests unconditionally to protect older people from the consequences of the pandemic," said Stefan Magel, chief operating officer at Penny in a statement. "It is important to us to show with the Christmas film and the campaign accompanying it that young people have paid a high price for this. On behalf of everyone we should like to thank them for this and give something back."
“During the last two years, much has been said about older people, parents, home office and care, and rightly so—children and young people had no voice," added Christoph Everke, creative managing director of Serviceplan Campaign. "We want to change all that with the mother’s unusual wish.”