The relationship between Christmas and advertising is a complicated one. You could argue that holiday marketing is one of the cornerstones of our obsession with consumerism that prioritizes shiny trinkets over human contact and emotion. You could also argue that ads actually encourage and idealize that same human contact and emotion by stoking the fires of seasonal magic. Hell, some say advertising invented the modern Santa.
Whatever side of the discussion you land on, it’s easy to agree that the bulk of the Christmas sales pitch revolves around a decidedly secular version of the holiday. Trees, turkey, presents, the fat man with a big white beard. Rarely does a marketer make a play on the other reason for the season. But here, agency BETC Paris and French premium cable channel Canal+ put a modern spin on the traditional nativity story.
Director Gary Freedman starts it off as expected–a wise man trekking across the desert, following the shining star in the sky to tiny Bethlehem. But once he gets to the stable, he finds it empty except for a cooing Baby Jesus. There’s a glow coming from a doorway, revealing that the other two wise men, along with Mary, Joseph (and even the donkey!) have decided to take a break from staring at the Child Savior, King of Kings, Son of God, and all that, to do something more important.
It’s a funny take on a familiar tale. Well, that or a commentary on the rise of celebrity culture and how TV and entertainment have replaced the church as modern society’s place of worship. Either way.