Amazon Brings Back the Singing Boxes for a Sprawling Holiday Extravaganza

A musical unboxing from Lucky Generals

There's a lot to unbox in Amazon's holiday spot, a 90-second musical extravaganza from Lucky Generals and Smuggler director Henry-Alex Rubin.

Big surprise, the company's iconic animated smile-boxes return, as holly-jolly as ever, performing a take on the '60s R&B tune "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love." A huge cast accompanies the cardboard crooners in a series of festive scenes. We meet a little girl playing a toy piano, a young couple on a packed train, an Amazon delivery driver, toe-tapping execs in a corporate boardroom, folks on a big-city bus, and many more.

Amazon Holiday 2019

Now, some holiday spots feel like greeting cards, and that's just fine. Here, however, Rubin makes impressive use of a broad canvas, and the film almost feels suitable for framing above the yuletide fireplace. Grinches may grouse at the outsized happy-happy message, but it's apt for Amazon, which must appeal to a wide swath of the gift-giving public in a relatable way.

The singing boxes first appeared in a 2017 holiday ad performing Supertramp's poppy "Give a Little Bit" (an overused but appropriate pick), and they took a bow last year with a version of the Jacksons' funky "Can You Feel It?" (an odd selection, but effective nonetheless). "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love"—first a hit for Solomon Burke in 1964, later covered by the Rolling Stones and the Blues Brothers—makes a fine choice, largely owing to its relative obscurity. The song evokes a timeless positivity free of the associations more recent tunes might conjure up for many viewers.

Amid the frenetic merrymaking, Rubin does well to focus on a couple of key characters, most notably the delivery driver, who ties everything together (she's tight with the boxes, after all), and closes out the cinematic spot with a realistic moment of family bonding. 

Rubin's well-versed in delivering storylines with emotional resonance. Such previous efforts include "The Table" for Dick's Sporting Goods (a 2018 holiday spot ad the reigning Grand Clio Sports Film winner) and Sandy Hook Promise's surprisingly bleak back-to-school campaign.

The spot broke last night during the New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens game on NBC's Sunday Night Football, and will debut in the U.K. tonight during ITV's Coronation Street. The campaign will run though the holiday season, with :60 and :30 edits also in the mix, across TV, online video, digital, social, OOH and other platforms.

CREDITS

Creative Agency – Lucky Generals
Director – Henry-Alex Rubin
Production Company – Smuggler
Editors – The Quarry
Post Production – The Mill
Music - Sound Tree
SFX Post - 750mph

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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