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Chevy Ad Blows Up 'New Car for Christmas' Trope

Screenshot via YouTube/Chevrolet

If I asked you to think of a car commercial that you would see at Christmastime, I can imagine what would come to your mind. Someone living in an ultra-modern house buys his or her spouse an expensive car — or maybe two — with a massive bow on it, saddling the couple with a sizeable car payment.

As crazy as the “I bought you a car for Christmas with no input from you” concept sounds, that’s been the pattern for Christmas car ads for years now. And while we’re talking about car commercials, don’t get me started on Erin Andrews throwing hip-hip expressions around like she knows what she’s talking about in her Infiniti ad.

But this Christmas season, Chevrolet is shaking things up with a powerful commercial called “Holiday Ride.”

This ad is amazing. The cinematography, music, and acting make it more like a short film than a Chevy commercial, which is appealing to a Ford guy like me. It creates a lasting emotional impact without schmaltz or manufactured sentimentality.

In it, we see a recently widowed man looking at a 1966 Chevy Impala convertible in his barn; it’s painfully obvious that this car has seen much better days, and so has its owner. He sees a photo of his late wife in the car, reminisces about her, and grieves. His daughter enlists some local mechanics to surreptitiously restore the car to its original glory, just in time for Christmas. He is surprised by the restored Impala, and father and daughter drive off together to enjoy a ride.

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Maybe you’ve seen the short version of this commercial on television. It packs a wallop for sure, but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the full four-minute version.

I’m not crying; you’re crying.

What’s most remarkable about this commercial is that it isn’t really trying to sell Chevrolets. After all, the car in the ad is an older model that you won’t see in most any showroom these days. Instead, what you really see on display is a collection of some of the best things about Christmas — and the rest of the holidays: family, community, a caring spirit, and unconditional love. The Chevy logo is almost incidental at the end of the commercial, taking a backseat to the “Happy Holidays” wish.

“Holiday Ride” is more than just a tearjerking, heart-tugging spot. It resonates with people everywhere, especially those of us who have lost loved ones. We may not have a car to bond over with the loved ones we’ve lost, but we can all understand the power of grief and memory.

Not only does “Holiday Ride” avoid Christmas tropes, but it also isn’t awash with wokeness the way everything else is these days. Wokeness has turned into a cliché of late, which makes it almost refreshing not to see veiled political messages on display. The spot also holds up the value of family beautifully and in a way that resonates with most viewers.

Chevy and ad agency Commonwealth//McCann pulled out the big guns for this one, including the Oscar-winning talents of director Tom Hooper, cinematographer Claudio Miranda, and composer Rachel Portman.

Adweek‘s Natalie Venegas reports that Commonwealth//McCann knew that only the best talent would do justice to a story this powerful:

“A special script like this deserved to have the best people possible to bring it to life,” Matt Canzano, chief creative officer of global markets at Commonwealth//McCann, told Adweek. “Tom Hooper’s filmography speaks for itself and he was hooked by the story straightaway—he had a personal connection to the story we wanted to tell and was impassioned by how to bring it to life.”

And if the Oscars gave out awards for commercials, “Holiday Ride” deserves a whole armful of them. Hopefully, the Emmys will recognize it next year.

To make this commercial even more magical, it’s reportedly based on a true story.

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In the midst of a world overcome with crass commercialism, an endless rush from one event to the next, political exhaustion, and a culture that seems to promise only bad news, there’s nothing we need more than a reminder of the important things in life.

Christmas can often give us those opportunities to pause and remember what we’re grateful for and what’s truly good about our society. “Holiday Ride” celebrates these things, and we can all benefit from watching this amazing commercial.

Kudos to the teams at Chevy and Commonwealth//McCann for putting together something that’s more than just a car ad — it’s a moment for everyone. They’ve given us a moving Christmas card that we can all appreciate at the time when we need it the most.

Merry Christmas.

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