Jingles bells, jingles bells… Must advertisers rework every holiday hymn into silly jingle?
December 11, 2009
Below are lyrics to a new holiday commercial for the Illinois Lottery from Chicago ad agency, Energy BBDO. They are sung to the music of Joy to the World.
Joy to that guy/who took away your futon
And the man who shampooed and conditioned your carpets
And the lady who constructed/Your amazing cat tower
Plus the butcher who sliced your beef paper thin
And the neighbor who rocks out softly after ten.
I print the lyrics here partly because they were so easy to get. In yesterday’s Chicago Tribune, columnist, John Kass did a piece about the ad campaign. He takes umbrage at reworking the classic hymn into a cheesy commercial about winning money. In case you missed it, here is his closing argument:
“I suppose they could have made a commercial using a secular Santa song, or something about drunken elves throwing snowballs and guzzling mulled wine. No one would care, except lawyers for the Snowman & Elf Collective. And no political bureaucrat would ever risk being condemned as insensitive by elves. Slapping Christianity, though, is another matter.”
Slapping Christianity? Ouch! Harsh words, Mr. Kass. I’m not sure many people take this, or any other carol, so seriously. Maybe we should. I don’t know. My fault with the work is less extreme. And it’s one I have with a lot of holiday themed ad campaigns. (The Illinois Lottery is far from alone.) For me, their original sin was reworking a Christmas carol in the first place. Rewriting lyrics is such a tired concept it’s not even a concept. It’s the thing you do in lieu of a concept.
I realize how tough it is being creative during the frenzied holiday season. Everyone and their brother is buying and/or selling stuff. Or not buying and/or selling stuff. Either way, retailers and consumers are dancing as fast as they can. It’s easy to see why agency’s default to holiday cliché’s. But I wish we wouldn’t. After all, one doesn’t have to wear a sweater with twinkling lights just because it’s the holidays.