Steve Carell Is a Stress-Eating Santa in Xfinity's Long-Form Holiday Ad

The whole North Pole is flummoxed by 2020

Throwing out the old plans and making new ones has been a major theme of 2020. And now it's happening at the North Pole too, in Xfinity's holiday ad, where Santa Claus—played by Steve Carell—and his merry band of elves try to reimagine Christmas in the time of Covid.

Goodby Silverstein & Partners collaborated with MJZ director Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya, and Disney's upcoming Cruella) on the 3:30 piece, in which Santa is getting pretty stressed out about how to deal with gift-giving this year. 

It's not totally clear why he and the elves need a wholesale rethink of their process—perhaps social distancing has made toy making more difficult. In any case, Santa declares that "the usual gifts are just not going to cut it," and that's that.

After he briefs his minions over video chat, they get to work on ideas. And indeed, they decide to deliver something a little different this year.

"The Greatest Gift" | Xfinity 2020 Holiday Commercial

"The Greatest Gift" follows Xfinity's big holiday spot from last year, which featured an E.T. reunion. The storytelling this time isn't as compelling, and the end line—"Togetherness. The greatest gift of all"—is a little galling when that togetherness mostly has to be virtual. But Carell always brings good energy, and Gillespie's version of the North Pole is charmingly detailed enough to work.

"The holidays are really about moments of togetherness with the people you love, and serve as a reminder for what's most important, especially given the hardships of this past year. I hope that this sweet little story will bring a bit of cheer," Carell says in a statement.

"This year the internet has kept us more connected than ever, allowing us to do more than we thought possible, in the face of less-than-ideal circumstances," says Todd Arata, svp of brand marketing at Comcast. "Xfinity is a connections brand, and this campaign is all about how our connections to one another can create real magic, particularly at this time of year."

"People have always turned to classic holiday stories for escape and inspiration during difficult times," says GS&P executive creative director Jim Elliott. "In fact, some of the most cherished holiday films and songs were born directly from them. Given the year we've just had, we decided to go back to the basics of holiday storytelling and revisit a classic narrative through a present-day lens."

"Getting the chance to tell a story about how Santa and the elves work together to pull off the impossible in a year when we've all had to wrestle with what work now looks like has been a special experience," adds GS&P co-chairman Jeff Goodby. "And the chance to shape it with an actor as beloved as Steve Carell gives the film an extra feeling of warmth."

"It's rare to have such a special project come along," says Gillespie. "Being able to collaborate with the agency and craft a message borne of this particular moment that captures a longing for togetherness was very gratifying. And having the opportunity to work with Steve Carell was a dream come true. He brought the heart, warmth and humor that is the magic of this spot."

As part of the campaign, Xfinity has also launched The Greatest Gift Shoppe on Pinterest—a virtual one-stop shop designed to help keep families connected through the holidays.

CREDITS

Client: Comcast
Brand: Xfinity
Campaign Name: The Greatest Gift
Air Date: 11/26/20
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Client 
Chief Marketing Offer: Sophia Ahmad
SVP, Brand Marketing, Messaging and Media: Peter Intermaggio
SVP, Brand Marketing IMC: Todd Arata
Vice President, Brand IMC: Dustin Hayes
Senior Director, Brand IMC: Rose Holden 
Manager, Brand IMC: Gabby Maunder

Social
Executive Director, Social Marketing: Nader Ali-Hassan
Director, Social Marketing: Jennifer Marder
Community Manager, Xfinity Brand: Lacey Ketchell

Agency

Creative 
Co-Chairmen: Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein
Chief Creative Officer: Margaret Johnson
Executive Creative Director: Jim Elliott
Creative Directors: Jon Wolanske, Jon Wyville 
Associate Creative Director: Justin Ralph
Art Directors: Hans Schenck, Stevan Chavez 
Copywriter: Mike Gallucci 

Social
Creative Director: Bob Cohen
Associate Creative Director: Ross Fischer
Copywriter: Shareina Chandler 
Art Director: Katy Wells

Design
Design Director: Ryan Self
Designers: Benny Gold, Pedro Zuccolini

Account Services 
Managing Partner: Leslie Barrett
Executive Group Account Director: Chad Bettor
Account Director: Kirsten Tsitsos
Account Manager: Lauren Berry
Assistant Account Manager: Caroline Lee

Social
Account Director: Tom Powers
Account Manager: Katie Freedman
Assistan Account Manager: Rachel Diaz

Brand and Communication Strategy 
Partner, Head of Brand Strategy: Bonnie Wan
Partner, Head of Communication Strategy: Christine Chen
Group Strategy Director: Kelly Evans-Pfeifer, Katie Coane
Communication Strategy Director: Maren Severtson
Group Director Research Data & Analytics Strategist: Cassi Husain
Senior Communication Strategist: Jacob Sperla
Communication Strategist: Rosie Kerstetter
Brand Strategist: Madison Cameron
Junior Communication Strategist: Tooba Wasi

Production
Executive Producer: James Horner
Agency Producer: Kateri McLucas

Social
Executive Producer: Gemma Edward

Business Affairs
Director of Business Affairs: Judy Ybarra
Production Business Manager: Yelena Kompaneyets

Production Company
Company Name: MJZ
Production Company City: Los Angeles
Director/DP: Craig Gillespie
President/Executive Producer: David Zander
Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson
Producer: Martha Davis
Director of Photography: Adam Arkapaw
Production Designer: Jamie Vickers

Editorial Company
Company Name: Rock Paper Scissors
Editing Company City: Los Angeles
Editor: Haines Hall
Assistant Editor: Kevin Goolsby
Head of Production: Dre Krichevsky
Executive Producer: Shada Shariatzadeh
Post Producer: Kevin Gottlieb

Audio and Sound Design Company 
Company name: Lime Studios
Sound Design Company City: LSD, Santa Monica
Sound Designer: Michael Anastasi
Sound Design Assistant: Kai Paquin
Audio Mixer: Adam Primack
Audio Assistant: Ian Connie
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

VFX Company 
VFX Studio: a52 
VFX Supervisor: Patrick Murphy
CG Supervisor: Andrew Romatz
2D VFX Artists: Andy McKenna, Urs Furrer, Stefan Gaillot, Matt Sousa, Richard Hirst, Adam Flynn, Michael Vaglienty, Kevin Stokes, Chris Riley
Lead CG Lighter: Ariana Ziae Mohseni
3D Artists: Dustin Mellum, Aemilia Widodo, Josh Dyer, Jun Kim, Weiyo Sha, Miguel Salek, Derek Friesenborg, Mike DiNocco, Jaemin Lee, Quinton Woodson, Joe Paniagua, Jose Limon, Bryan Cox, Jade Smrz, Joe Chiechi, Michael Bettinardi, Joey Bettinardi
Matte Painters: Nick Hiatt, Jie Zhou
Online Editors: Chris Riley, John Valle
Producers: Everett Cross, Andrew Rosenberger
Executive Producers: Patrick Nugent & Kim Christensen
Head of Production: Stacy Kessler Aungst
Head of CG Production: Michael Steinmann
Managing Director: Jennifer Sofio Hall

Design Studio
Design Studio: Elastic
Art Director: Nadia Tzuo
Animator(s): Trix Taylor, Lucy Kim, Chad Danieley
Coordinator: Mitchell Fraser
Deputy Head of Production: Zach Wakefield
Executive Producer: Luke Colson 
Head of Production: Kate Berry 
Managing Director: Jennifer Sofio Hall 

Color
Company Name: a52 Color
Colorist: Daniel de Vue
Color Assistants: Dylan Bursick, Corey Martinez
Color Producer: Jenny Bright
Executive Producer: Thatcher Peterson

Music
Music Company: Songs for Film & T.V.
Music Supervisor: David Fisher
"Dreamer" performed by Roger Hodgson and written by Roger Hodgson, Richard Davies
Composer: Eric Kinny 
Composer: Bruce Driscoll 

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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