Amazon, Taika Waititi Sweetly Show How 'Joy Is Made' This Holiday

A charming father-daughter tale for the season

Amazon's holiday ads over the past three years can be viewed as an evolution of sorts, meditations on themes of kindness and joy in tune with their respective times.

In 2020, the e-tail giant explored life paused by Covid isolation, followed a year later by a moving take on the anxieties of a reopening world. This year's 2:30 film from Oscar winner Taika Waititi presents a story that wouldn't have seemed out of place in pre-pandemic times, but resonates a tad stronger now, perhaps, owing to our collective experience with hardship and desperation on a global scale.

It's a simple, almost stripped-down tale set to "You Hold Me Up," an alt-folk track from The Bones of J.R. Jones. The tune is mellow, low-key and ultimately optimistic, a description that fits the ad to a yuletide tee.

A schoolgirl adores her little snow globe and takes it with her wherever she goes. But Dad builds a far grander gift, reminding us of the enduring bonds between human beings and how love can always bring us together:

Amazon | Joy Is Made

And so, the family greenhouse morphs into a life-size snow globe, with thousands of twinkling lights and flakes of shredded recycled paper falling gently from above. Words like sweet, heartwarming and charming pop to mind. That vibe feels well-suited to December 2022, with folks emerging from two and a half rough years, strengthened, one hopes, by their tenacity, resourcefulness and faith in each other.

"We're constantly inspired by the inventive spirit of Amazon customers, and we wanted to tell a story with a different view of generosity and giving at Christmas, and the joy from doing something special for someone you love," Ed Smith, the company's EU GM of marketing, says in a blog post. "We're happy to play a small part in the creation of that joy, but the hero of the story is a father's love for his child."

Somehow, the ad's not sappy. Well, maybe a little. But Waititi's muted visual canvas—informed by his work on JoJo Rabbit, The Mandalorian and Thor: Love and Thunder—keeps treacle at bay. The steady pace and small jokes along the way work in the film's favor, too. (The tiny globe wears a safety belt while traveling—cute.) Overall, the slow emotional build and assured storytelling yield a most satisfying payoff.

Agency Lucky Generals developed the campaign, with lead actors Jared Turner and Anouk Christiansen turning in fine performances. The theme line, "Joy Is Made," feels on point. We work to improve their lives of those cherish. In doing so, we give others, and ourselves, the best present of all.

Yeah, OK, it's a little sappy. 'Tis the season, after all!

Penny's holiday outing makes similar points in a much darker way, while daddy-daughter dynamics also drive John Lewis' Christmas commercial this year. For lighter festive fare, check out entries from BMW (with a satirical red bow), Sainsbury's (there's a dragon!) and Fussy deodorant (dig that armpit rendition of "Deck the Halls"), with surely more to come.

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