Steve Carell is an overbearing, stress-eating, work-from-home Santa in Xfinity's holiday ad

Goodby Silverstein & Partners' short film runs during NBC's broadcast of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Published On
Nov 26, 2020

Editor's Pick

Steve Carell’s career is dotted with many an endearing character, from a 40-year-old virgin to a bumbling boss. This holiday season, he adds Santa Claus to his oeuvre with a short film from Comcast Xfinity.

Created out of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, the three-minute-plus spot for the telecom brand is set to air during Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which has been re-imagined for pandemic times and airs on Comcast sibling NBC.

The film too, acknowledges that the holidays will be a lot different this year. It opens with Carell’s St. Nick summoning his dedicated elves via a video call with a big demand: “After the year we’ve just had the usual gifts are just not going to cut it. So, we have to find something else, and fast! That’s all. Figure it out. Good luck!”

He regrets his challenging directive almost immediately after he hangs up, yet (perhaps like many of us who have been working from home) the elves go into overdrive trying to come up with a solution. One lands on a seemingly unachievable idea: to package the intangible gift of the holiday spirit.

The clever elf proposes to gift precious seasonal experiences like a “smell of Grandma’s cooking,” “Auntie’s cheek squeezes” and “Grandpa’s same old stories.” Though Mrs. Claus has faith, Santa isn’t buying it. As he checks in over video conference with the team, he grows increasingly anxious, stuffing his face with Christmas cake and whipped cream and losing plenty of ZZZ’s.

Ultimately, however, the elves manage to pull it off, a happy surprise for the fella responsible for all the surprising. The team effort—as well as the unusual gifts Santa and his elves are able to deliver— are tied up sweetly in the endline: “Togetherness. The greatest gift of all.”

“People have always turned to classic holiday stories for escape and inspiration during difficult times,” said GS&P Executive Creative Director Jim Elliott in a statement. “Given the year we’ve just had, we decided to go back to the basics of holiday storytelling and revisit a classic narrative through a present-day lens.”

“This year the internet has kept us more connected than ever, allowing us to do more than we thought possible, in the face of less-than-ideal circumstances,” added Todd Arata, senior VP of brand marketing at Comcast in a statement. “Xfinity is a connections brand and this campaign is all about how our connections to one another can create real magic, particularly at this time of year.”

The spot was directed by MJZ’s Craig Gillespie (“I, Tonya,” “Lars and the Real Girl” and the upcoming “Cruella”). It follows Comcast and Goodby’s holiday blockbuster from last year, an “E.T.”-themed ad that reunited the now-adult Elliott with his extra-terrestrial pal. 

“The holidays are really about moments of togetherness with the people you love, and serve as a reminder for what’s most important, especially given the hardships of this past year,” said Carell. “I hope that this sweet little story will bring a bit of cheer.”