How Disturbing? How Brilliant? Edeka Christmas Advert

When I watched the saddest Christmas commercial to date, I shed a tear or two, I didn't weep because I was at work and considering the insanely tough week I was having I didn't want to collapse because of a sad sad commercial... right towards the end of the commercial though I sure looked and sounded crazy, because for anyone watching me, my face went from neutral to sad, to teary then suddenly I was covering my mouth with my hands in excitement when I realized how witty that old man was!

Considering that I've experienced all those emotions in less than two minutes, this was definitely a share-worthy ad! But I didn't share it on my wall, I thought it was too sad and hits home with many on my friends' list who wouldn't get a second chance to make mends, or who would feel a greater sorrow for not having a loved one sitting on the festive happy table this year... I shared it on my company's Facebook group because I thought, those are madwomen and madmen, they are ad immune, they will appreciate the insight behind the work, the talent and the effort put to create such a great piece of work... few seconds later I deleted it... I thought, this ad is too sad for anyone who has lost a dear one to watch... so I thought this ad sucks! Emotions are great, realistic situations are great too but advertising should not be all THAT DEPRESSING...

The story doesn't end here...

Eventually, everyone saw it and I was hearing and engaging with discussions about this ad, with 41,589,058 views on YouTube at the time of writing this, this depressing ad managed to become one of the industry's most successful commercials...if we measure success by reach that is... The commercial was featured on lots of industry magazines with headers like " Most Depressing Christmas Commercial" "Forget John Lewis this is the most depressing Christmas ad" "This Depressing Christmas ad is Enraging Everyone!"... I mean, well done on the captivating titles, who wouldn't be intrigued by those??

Sure...reach, hits, views and numbers are essential to measuring success, but this is only ONE aspect of success... the industry has become so hungry for likes and shares numbers, but likes and shares don't build brands, liked and shared MESSAGES do... we must make the distinction...

Considering the obsession I developed towards understanding and dissecting this commercial, and my confused opinion whether I love it or hate it, I found myself asking... what about the message? what about Christmas? what about the quality of impact this ad has had on the people and ultimately Edeka? Tears... definitely... but what was the message? what did people get?

I got my answers by talking to people and reading the comments people posted on every platform and post that shared this ad... They revolved around:

  1. Admiring the wittiness or despising the evilness of this grandpa (I thought he was cute!)

  • Thinking they should not trust Edeka, a company that airs a commercial that shocks and depresses you for the sake of it... people didn't think they were given a reason to make them want to buy from Edeka...
  • Tears and crying and more tears..
  • Admitting to be guilty of prioritizing life over parents or the ones we love in a way or another... Some even wrote that they picked the phone and called a parent, or booked a ticket, or rechecked their schedule because they wanted to be home for Christmas...
  • Please read number 4 again... I was so humbled and a lesson was reiterated... Honest and genuine responses from the people your brand is talking to and trying to influence is what you need... not information-less numbers, not clients' opinions on what might work or might not, not a account management's guidelines on what should or could be done or not, and certainly not a planner's own perspective on what people will get and how they might react...
    The other points confirm the commercial is intense... the bigger the tension, the more uncomfortable people are with the message, the stronger the impact...Changing behaviour requires shaking people and taking them out of their comfort zones; emotionally and mentally.

    My final verdict...I think the commercial is brilliant and it moved people. Does it add much to the brand? I'm not so sure, my hunch tells me the message was stronger than the brand and the brand linkage wasn't too strong but this requires another investigation and blog post...

    Too sad? Yes. Doesn't fit the "Happy Holidays" perfect image we are presented with everywhere? Yes. Doesn't fit the image we have of the happy family we are convinced or hoping is us? Absolutely... But in reality...do we all prioritize as we hoped we could? are we all successfully living this perfect holiday image? I doubt... Not because we are bad, not because we're insensitive, not because we don't care, but because we might forget sometimes...

    The views and shares are going to increase... which is going to make the effectiveness team happy... However, I'm sure the ad has managed to make people change their plans this holiday season, and it has managed to change the way we prioritize, this holiday season and on any other day... and THIS is what makes it a great commercial...