By Rebecca Pierce

This Christmas season Best Buy dares to challenge Santa in their TV spots entitled Game On, Santa. There are several different TV spots with the same basic premise. A mom goes Christmas shopping at Best Buy and is happily surprised when she learns from a sales associate how Best Buy has affordable prices for expensive electronics. The sales associate then says something along the lines of, “Santa better watch out.” The shot cuts to Christmas Eve. It is the middle of the night and Santa is in a house, attempting to place his presents under a Christmas tree or in stockings. To Santa’s dismay, the space under the Christmas tree is already full and the stockings are already stuffed. As Santa fumbles for a place to put his gifts, the mom from earlier appears in the room. The mom stayed up late to gloat to Santa that she bought so many gifts that there is no room for Santa’s presents. The words, “GAME ON, SANTA,” flash across the screen. The commercial ends with a product shot and a voice-over from Entourage’s Kevin Connolly saying, “Hundreds of gifts for under a hundred dollars and thousands more online, at Best Buy.”

The idea is simple: moms save more buying gifts at Best Buy because of the lower holiday prices, therefore allowing moms to buy more presents. Because Santa is the ultimate gift giver, traveling to billions of homes in one night, to deliver an infinite amount of gifts that are simply “magical,” Santa is the perfect comparison. Best Buy uses Santa as an exaggeration to show Best Buy’s prices are so great that moms can potentially compete and OUTGIFT the ULTIMATE gift giver, Santa.

At first glance, the commercial is humorous and pretty forgettable. The moms have moderately funny lines and the notion of competing with a magical being is laughable, but when a commercial viewer looks deeper, the TV spots start to look pretentious and tasteless. Best Buy chooses Santa to look like one of the nicest, most genuine Santas I have ever seen. They make Santa look completely authentic and then shut him down and decree him worthless because the stockings are already full of mom’s gifts from Best Buy. Santa was not able to fulfill his duty, ergo he is pathetic. The moms gloat in Santa’s face, telling him he can stuff the dog’s stocking if he needs something to do or simply just drink the milk that was left for Santa to show their superiority. With Best Buy’s help, moms seem to be replacing Santa. Audiences get to see Santa’s emotions range from shock to irritation to defeat. A question for Best Buy: why during the holiday season, would you want to put down the iconic seasonal figure that generates revenue for businesses? Wouldn’t you want to create magical commercials that get parents into the holiday spirit and make them feel childlike again? A plea to businesses, if you decide to put Santa in your commercials, look at how you are portraying him from different angles before you attempt to use him in your advertisements.

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Written by Ad Buzz

The American Advertising Federation Illinois Chapter brings to you Ad Buzz, a blog dedicated to all things advertising related, from our favorite campaigns to trends going on in the industry.

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