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It's the Most Wonderful Ads of the Year

Ok. I'll admit it. I am a sucker for heart wrenching holiday stories.

And still for me, the most touching stories are delivered in the most traditional of ways - ye old television ad.

Nothing like a couple of classic Folgers' 'mom being surprised by returning son on Christmas morning' spots to get me fired up for the season.

Yep - one of my favorite advertising times of the year. Each year brings new holiday chapters.

Yet, the competition for grabbing our interest elevates each year as we now receive more new, real holiday stories from around the world instantly and daily via our Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Thus, for television spots to break through and really 'touch us' today, they have to be really, really good.

They can't just be sappy. Brand strategy has to be woven in.

The makeup of today's television 'holiday story' must be first rate - the writing, the filming, the acting, the music, the message - all must be at the highest level to engage us. We are more sophisticated viewers today and we unconsciously 'block out' everything but the most relevant and intriguing stories.

So, I am pleased to report that there are still examples of engaging and smart holiday television ads that stand up to the modern day test. Here are my three winners for the 'Most Wonderful Holiday Stories' for 2016.

The bronze winner....

Beautiful filming. No voice over. The story unfolds and invites us in.

The most engaging part of this spot is the emotional music and calming lyrics. Ironically, this is how many artists get launched these days. The musical piece is "Normal Song" by Perfume Genius. Almost certain to be a hit.

The spot is more than just a pretty and melodic story though. There are some subtle but smart brand messages within.

The ad underscores that Toyota truly understands life in rural America (obviously, their target for trucks). And, Toyota trucks are tough and durable enough to take you to beautiful, remote places (notice how they had to leave the other cars behind). It also reinforces Toyota's long standing commitment to our military. But, all this strategy does not get in the way of the story.

I sure could have done without the 'canned announcer' at the end of the commercial (deduct 10 points). But overall - a very nice spot.

The silver winner...

What's happening here? This ad really captured me. I thought for sure it was a lost dog in the storm. But then, father and son were in an empty, snow covered parking lot. What the heck? In the end, they brought it all together. Nice.

Very few words (notice a pattern here?)

Awesome song (another pattern? This time it is "Make You Feel My Love" by Sleeping at Last.)

Terrific casting and acting. The typical very unstated teenage boy and girl were perfect.

And, the brand story? Mercedes are dependable and safe enough to travel with your most prized possessions even in the worse conditions. Love the look of disbelief on the dad's face that another car would even try to get out in this weather. But alas, it is another Mercedes. The dads are proud because they can deliver on their implied promises to their kids - only because of their reliable silver Mercedes.

And, no canned announcer at the end. Good idea.

And, the Gold Winner is....

Wow. Terrific. The magic of great storytelling. A perfect message delivered at the perfect the perfect way.

The hands down best holiday story of the year. (At a no doubt strategic period on the calendar when Amazon must shine brightly.)

One secret of this spot. Those are not actors. That is a real Muslim imam and a true Catholic priest.

Love that because we - again, as sophisticated viewers - can somehow sense this authenticity.

The story goes on even after this spot has been shot and aired. Evidently, these two gentlemen - the real life Muslim imam and the real life Catholic vicar - met for the first time at the filming of this spot and they have become fast friends - in real life.

They now both talk about the impact of this ad on their lives and in the world. That is the power of truly engaging storytelling done really right in every way.

Here's an added bonus - when this magic happens these days, it is not just a television audience that is reached . This "Priest and Imam" spot is so powerful that it has been viewed almost 2 million times on YouTube.

Pure holiday magic.

And again - not just a 'feel good' commercial. Amazon's own tale of having the perfect gift being easily assessable for all kinds of customers, all around the world comes shining through.

Well done.

Just sends shivers up my spine.

Three terrific presents for this most special time of the year.

Happy Holidays to all my Fred Moore or Less readers.

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