This Holiday Ad Provides Compelling Evidence for the Origin of the Awkward Dad Gene

Plus, we love ourselves a good mixtape

This holiday spot from French mobile firm Bouygues Telecom opens with a vintage shot of somebody popping a Christmas compilation into a tape deck. The resulting song, Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love"—which follows us throughout the ad—is an irresistible reference to the opening from one of the most mixtape-magical films of this generation: Guardians of the Galaxy. 

From here, we're hooked. But "An Unforgettable Christmas" isn't about mixtapes, really; that's bait. Created by BETC Paris, it's a classic tumble through one boy's lifetime, benchmarked by his dancing dad. 

More important, it documents evidence of how the Awkward Dad gene passes from one dude to the next. 

Bouygues Christmas 2018

Here's what happens in less than 90 seconds of Christmases: A young man—he who popped in the mixtape—turns and starts dancing to the music for his infant son. This is corny but cute, and establishes an editorial line: When the son gets just a little older, he dances along, which of course makes it a Thing.

In the natural way of Things, that Thing gets harder to sustain (and more mortifying!) as the son grows into manhood himself. 

But this is only a quick survey on how a cute new-dad feature turns into an Awkward Dad Gimmick, and we aren't left squatting long in the young man's embarrassment. 

The holidays aren't meant for thinking about the millions of ways we accidentally hurt our dorky loved ones. BETC knows that, and ostensibly Bouygues does too, so it cuts right to the chase: Our hip millennial makes a kid of his own. And when he does, he calls Dad to do the Dad Dance with his own baby, thus falling into the trap that will lead him inevitably into Dad Joke territory himself.

Maybe that's what captivates us—a Thing is nearly always born as a spontaneous gesture for someone else. It's time, coupled with the compulsion to transform that moment into a lifelong connection, that makes you the archetype we all love to laugh at (and, ideally, with).

This is a lovely piece of work that expresses something easy to acknowledge as universal. It doesn't change the world, but makes artful use of traditional elements—holiday good-feeling, mixtape nostalgia, a solid pop track, the passage of time, dorky dads and rebirth. 

Brand inclusion isn't always subtle, and its overall relevance is limited at best, but is in any case unavoidable. Aging is expeditiously and gently handled, with timing nicely measured to elicit a clean emotional arc.

Directed by Martin Werner, the film launched on French television this week.


Client: Bouygues Telecom
Client Management: Tanguy Moillard, Anne-Laure Dreano, Audrey Longuet
Agency: BETC Paris 
Agency Management: Bertille Toledano, Mathieu Laugier, Vera Lucas, Justine Avenel, Elodie Colin    
Executive Creative Director: Stéphane Xiberras
Creative Directors: David Soussan, Marie-Ève Schoettl
Copywriter: Rémi Campet
Art Director: Rayhaan Khodabux    
Music Creative Director: Christophe Caurret
Agency Producer: Sebastien Lintingre
Production Company: Henry
Producer: Jean Ozannat
Director: Martin Werner
Sound Production: General Pop

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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