This French Christmas Ad Tells Another Lovely Father-Daughter Tale

Bouygues Telecom gets on the phone with Santa

Halloween's barely a week gone, and we're already in the thick of holiday ads. Amid the reliable heavy hitters—all those English department stores come to mind—are small, promising contenders, weaving reputations one ad at a time, year after year. Maybe they ride a good song, but they tell a familiar story in a way listeners will relish anew. 

This is one such ad. 

"Father Christmas," brought to you by French brand Bouygues Telecom and Paris agency BETC, spools out to Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life." And like the Argos spot from last week, it has a father-daughter story at its core. 

Bouygues Telecom - Father Christmas

A mother gives her young daughter a phone number for Santa, who, of course, is her dad hiding out in the car, trying to score her wish list.

Mission accomplished. But kids aren't stupid, and when you've got a supernatural entity on the hook, you don't let it go. This kid's got an awful lot to say to Santa, at all hours of the day! Thus, Dad finds himself ducking out of meetings, putting on the Santa voice while riding the bus, and struggling out of the shower to catch the phone before it rolls to voicemail—which, of course, would break the spell. 

(TV parents are always so sweet. My dad would've saved himself the trouble, stopped the charade, and told me to go to school ... or whatever it is that kid should be doing instead.) 

The predictable but charming ending also features a neat brand tie-in. Dad unwraps his Christmas gift to find a new mobile phone (surprise!). It rings: The house is calling, undoubtedly his daughter, looking for Santa. 

Or is she? He's not sure. He wanders out of the room, just in case, and puts the phone to his ear without speaking, like in a ransom movie. 

"Merry Christmas, Daddy," she says. He turns, to find her standing behind him like a Victorian ghost, all Tiny Tim-sized and clutching a landline to her face, for the shot that takes this home. In that moment before the inevitable hug, a truth is revealed: She knew all along, betraying a plaintive love that scavenges for any time a parent can offer (another thing actual human parents might almost instantly lose patience with). 

An old story. But an effective one. "The greatest gifts are the ones we share," the ad concludes. 

The piece follows Bouygues' 2018 offering, "An Unforgettable Christmas." That one starred a dad dancing to Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love" for his baby son over the holidays, which becomes an embarrassing thing that spans years, until the son becomes a father and carries the dance into the next generation. 

That last work was more original, and yielded over 180 million views. "Father Christmas," though, rhymes in its emotional impact: It, too, is directed by Martin Werner, and is still about dads and the lengths they'll go to for their kids, especially over the holidays. 

The music is effective, even if it kicks off imperfectly—while the child reads her list, which becomes impossible to hear. But that's OK; who hasn't lived through an awkward transition? So much of what's lovely about this work happens in the faces—the cuteness of the child, or the smile that forms on the dad's face that manifests everything he's learning about this little person he helped make. 

By and large, this is solid B+ work. We even cried a little.

CREDITS

Client: Bouygues Telecom
Client Management: Tanguy Moillard, Anne-Laure Dreano, Amandine Begasse
Agency: BETC
Agency Management: Bertille Toledano, Mathieu Laugier, Vera Lucas, Sophie Tudual, Andrea Jeanroy
Executive Creative Director: Stephane Xiberras
Creative Directors: David Soussan, Marie-Eve Schoettl
Creative Supervisor: /
Art Director: Julien Vergne
Assistant Ad: Mathis Payet
Copywriter: Alexandre Girod
Music Creation Director: Christophe Caurret
Strategic Planning: Alexandre Ben Soussan 
Traffic: Alexandra Chini
Creative Producer: Sebastien Lintingre
Production House: Henry
Sound Production : Gum
Director: Martin Werner
Head of Media: Performics
Available Formats: 100'', 90'', 50'', 70'', 30'', 20'', 10''

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is a founding contributor to Muse. She is also the co-founder of esports agency Hurrah.gg, and co-author of Generation Creation.

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