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For Find Out Friday Week 16- The History of the Ultimate Christmas Commercial

I have been home half of this week with a migraine. The good times never end at my house. Because of that I have seen A LOT of TV. With that comes even more commercials. I have seen the same ones so many times I have them memorized so well I now hate them. But it did led to this week’s Find Out Friday topic.

I know you have seen this commercial. It is a classic this time of year.

Every time I see it I think wow this has been on every year since I was little. Whoever made it must be a rich, rich man. One commercial and done. Sounds like the perfect plan to retirement. So naturally I had some exploring to do.

It premiered in 1989, when I was eight. It is officially known as “Christmas Bells” and has never been altered. It is simple and because of the vagueness of the premise it is timeless. There are no details that prevent it from being used year after year. And although when you see it back to back for hours on end you feel like you are about to loose your mind, it is fairly catchy.

It turns out the man with this plan was John Dunn, a Hershey’s brand manager, who I now call the Harper Lee of the commercial business. 

The ad agency for Hershey at that time was Ogilvy Mather and together with John Dunn created this legendary piece of television history. While on a business trip to San Francisco designing other Hershey commercials, Dunn selected Carl Willat and Gordon Clark and tasked them with creating an idea for a Christmas commercial. This assignment came strictly from Dunn but he was convinced if it was good enough he could work on his bosses. Clearly he was successful on both fronts. breaks down the four most interesting facts about this story:

  1. It is Hershey’s longest running commercial ever;
  2. An employee went out on his own to create it;
  3. The second to last moment is critical; and
  4. It should be studied for its genius.

According to the Hershey archives:

“To reinforce the whimsy and innocence of the brand identity, John suggested the idea of having one of the Kisses franticly ringing at the end of the commercial where the Kiss expresses great relief by wiping its brow with the plume when the song concluded.”

Classic and as they say all achieved without saying or singing one actually word.

I hope John Dunn is off on a beach somewhere enjoying the sun and an umbrella drink for us all.

P.S. It played several times as I typed this.

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