Thanksgiving is mere weeks way and many in the industry still don’t know what holiday season advertising could look like this year. With the spread of a global virus approaching its dismal anniversary, brands continue to read the room to meet a moment unlike any other: how to balance commerce while acknowledging that the world is a decidedly different place.
As a glimpse into how holiday advertising could look, Amazon launched a beautiful and emotional ad to kick off the season. Here is an exclusive first look at the sweeping two-minute short film, titled “The Show Must Go On.” The piece was created by Lucky Generals, and stars Taïs Vinolo, a French-born ballerina and is currently based in Los Angeles and New York City.
The powerful story follows a timeline of joy, challenge and despair as Vinolo’s character lands a leading role in her dance school’s production, only to have Covid-19 put the plans on thin ice. She continues to train in and around her neighborhood—with hopes of things going back to normal—but the performance is canceled. She ultimately loses hope.
However, behind the scenes, her sister and community rally in secret. They pull together and conceive a chance for Vinolo’s character to perform in front of an audience after all. It’s a finale reminiscent of how some cities used art to coalesce in challenging times as the pandemic took hold in its early days.
“Our holiday campaign is inspired by, and pays tribute to, the unbeatable human spirit and the power of community that we have witnessed so often this year,” said Simon Morris, vp of global creative at Amazon.
The film was shot by powerhouse director Melina Matsoukas, an nitronet Creative 100 honoree. Matsoukas is best known for work on music videos like Beyonce’s iconic “Formation,” Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” and the 2019 film Queen and Slim, which was written by Lena Waithe. In addition to the sweeping, yet intimate, camera work and production, the ad is anchored with an original arrangement of Queen’s 1991 song “The Show Must Go On.”
This year’s ad is the fourth for TBWA Worldwide shop Lucky Generals and represents a departure from the past three years. While singing Amazon boxes is usually a crowd-pleaser, the gravity of the situation worldwide demanded a more somber yet hopeful approach.
In Viniolo’s view as a Black teen establishing her name in the elite world of ballet, her casting further imbues this project with a profound cultural impact and meaning at this moment, as the world—and particularly the United States—grapples with systemic racism.
“When I was growing up in the French countryside, there were no young Black girls studying ballet with hair like mine, or even on TV, meaning I had no one to identify myself with,” she said. “Being on this shoot helped so much with this, enabling me to own who I really am, who I want to be and what I represent. I am so proud to have been part of this project since the message of it means a lot to me and even more so in this very difficult time that the world is going through.”
The full two-minute ad launches on Nov. 3 in the U.K. during The Great British Bake Off. The ad debuts in the U.S. on Nov. 8 during NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
Amazon Campaign Team
VP Global Creative: Simon Morris
WW Executive Creative Director: Jo Shoesmith
Senior Campaign Manager, EU: Jennifer Finch
Senior Campaign Manager, Global: Kelly McFarren
Senior Creative Program Manager, Global: Kara York
Creative Program Manager, Global: Jennifer Orrestad