With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

Forget Rudolph, the Grinch and Frosty. I’m not here to talk about it It’s A Wonderful Life  or Hallmark Channel movies (even though my daughter-in-law loves them). Today I want to focus on Christmas Commercials.

It’s been a good yuletide season for ads. Although I’ve yet to see the famous Santa-on-a-Norelco-shaver spot (one of my all-time favorites), there’s been some engaging TV spots. Oh sure, they are all  promoting crass commercialism when we’re all really supposed to be thinking about peace, brotherhood and one very important baby born in a barn, but let’s focus on creativity, entrepreneurism and providing more than a few jobs. 

The Peloton TV spot got all the buzz for all the wrong reasons. This year they stepped in it with an ad that suggesting a rich guy demands his perfectly beautiful wife to continuously workout to maintain her perfectly physique. The stock stumbled for a bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Peloton has fantastic end of year sales.

Or was it all a sneaky plot? At the end of the day, Peloton is a brand that found a way to successfully sell a piece of fitness equipment  at a super-expensive price – despite the fact that this particular piece of fitness equipment exists in abundance on Planet Earth.  

And they really took the wind out of the sales of competitor Echelon. Is anyone talking about their Christmas TV ad, showing Santa using their product? The tagline, Oh What Fun It Is To Ride, is cute, but will anyone be really elated when they get an Echelon as a gift?

The Christmas TV spots I love the most this year are leveraging  fantastic music. A sort of commercial “sounds of the seasons”.

Amazon so effectively uses  Everybody Needs Somebody to Love that it’s almost illegal to not smile when you see it. Even if you hate Amazon. This is a great tune that most of us know from the Blues Brothers in the 80s or Wilson Pickett before that.  Or maybe even the Rolling Stones or Jerry Garcia. The truth of the matter is that this song was written by Bert Berns, Solomon Burke and Jerry Wexler and originally recorded by Burke and produced by Berns back in the 60s.

And there’s Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe brings the Etsy brand to life in TV spots this December entitled “Here’s to the Givers”. (I didn’t realize this ballad was written by Sonny.) Their version of this song is just wistful enough that you can’t help but sit up and take notice.

But the BIG WINNER, especially among Geek Culture fans, is, without a doubt, TD Ameritrade and their effective Get Smart homage.  I heard that signature music one day when I was at my mom’s house.  I was in the other room but I came a-runnin’ when I recognized the opening bars of this iconic theme.

Competitor E*Trade has  experimented with a few looks over the years – from talking babies to fallen-from-grace Kevin Spacey.  TD Ameritrade, on the other hand, has created a friendly spokesman who serves as a trusted advisor to folks struggling with financial planning. Maybe that’s why inserting that spokesperson into this  Get Smart homage stands out.

For folks my age, Get Smart was our spy show when we were kids. We were just a little too little to go see Sean Connery as 007 at the theaters.  So Maxwell Smart, Agent 86, was our favorite spy. He’s was goofy and headstrong and ultimately a hard worker and a good egg.

Get Smart started, in many ways, when actor Don Adams was playing a hotel detective in the early 60s The Bill Dana Show.  Adams was reluctant to perform as that overbearing character, but it quickly found an audience. Not long after Get Smart debuted with Don Adams. He was promoted from hotel dick to secret agent, essentially playing the same headstrong, over-confidant goofball.

So many of the show’s gags burst forth beyond the show back then including catch phrases like  “I missed it by that much”, “Would you believe…?” , “Sorry about that, Chief” and a personal (albeit politically incorrect) favorite, “the Craw”. There were numerous attempts at reboots on TV and the big screen.  They were never really able to capture the lightning in the bottle again.

But, this new TD Ameritrade Get Smarter commercial kind of does! Their ad is spot-on with music, fonts, timing but still gets all the brand’s key attributes out there.  Geek Culture comes full circle, and now helps all the 60s fans plan their retirement.  But whatever…. I love it.

And since I’m probably not going to see Santa zipping over snow moguls on a Norelco shaver this year, I’m going to keep an eye out for this commercial.