As a marketer, my holiday season begins each year as soon as John Lewis releases their annual holiday ad.
But as a Dad, my holiday season begins each year sometime in early December when my family and I sit down to watch what is tied for my favourite holiday movie of all time: Elf.*
I love everything about that film, and I've seen it at least a dozen times (literally). Will Ferrell plays the part of Buddy the Elf brilliantly, the rest of the star-studded cast is equally terrific, and the movie is filled with memorable lines that make me smile just thinking about them. ("Santa, here? I know him! I know him!" and "Call me elf one more time" are my favourites.)
This is why I have mixed feelings about the film being essentially repurposed as a holiday spot for Asda, the British grocery chain.
And I do mean "repurposed". The ad stars Ferrell as Buddy, and fans of the film will recognize at least 12 separate instances of lines or situations taken directly from the film and applied to this commercial.
Is this an entertaining spot? If you're a fan of the film, absolutely!
But does that make it a good ad? Nope.
And if you want proof of that, here's a challenge for you: make a note in your calendar for five days from now that simply says "Remember the Ad". Then watch it, and in five days, see if you can remember the name of the grocery store being featured.
I bet you'll remember "the ad that was like the movie Elf"... but will have a much more difficult time remembering what was being advertised.
Which, of course, is the primary purpose of an ad in the first place.
That's the problem with borrowing equity from a well-loved celebrity: when they take the stage, they get the spotlight... and if you're not careful, you can get left in the shadows.
The world could use some more Buddy the Elf these days, so I'm happy this entertaining ad was produced.
Even if shareholders of Asda's parent (Walmart) probably shouldn't be.
* If you're wondering about the film that ties "Elf" for first place, I'll give you a hint: I try to watch it every Christmas Eve (which is when the film takes place), and some people have the nerve not to consider it a Christmas film at all. Give up?