Inclusion is the reward in these hearty vacation reminders

Welcome to my daily dialogue with baristas, receptionists and shopkeepers when I have to excuse my name five times and spell it letter by letter until they understand it correctly.


I was probably never asked how normal this situation is for people with whimsical names until I saw Etsy's newest vacation spot, Shiori. It's about a girl's journey to own her unique name through a necklace given by her mother. The authentic place even ended with a dash of conversational Japanese. In short, I've never seen myself seen this way through an ad.

This holiday season is unlike any other we've experienced before. Gone are the usual gifts or imaginative holiday TV spots. For once, brands want to tell realistic, heartwarming and, above all, comprehensive stories for everyone.

For the first time ever, Disney UK created a Christmas commercial starring a Filipino immigrant family, celebrating heartfelt traditions (e.g. the starlamp scene was magical) and a priceless relationship between a grandmother or Lola and her granddaughter. The place had since been seen by many people around the world and was hailed for its originality and authentic depiction of Filipino immigrant families.

Even in John Lewis' highly anticipated annual Christmas commercial, the retail giant's ad is all about prepayment by offering a variety of moving art formats, from animation and claymation to CGI and cinematography.

In the end, there are some similarities:

A resonant festive narrative doesn't have to be about escape or extravagance

Hedonistic ways of spending the holidays are no longer applicable this year. Grounding stories in realistic, varied scenarios allows audiences to feel more human. Whether it's Lola's close relationship with her granddaughter, a blonde girl helping a brown boy get his ball, or a group of hip street pigeons making friends with a hedgehog, the ingrained theme of inclusivity is in everyone stories told consistently.

Softer, friendlier settings are core features that appear everywhere

All spots show how generosity and friendliness can benefit everyone. Even Tesco, a UK grocery chain, is using humor to spread this year's emotional weight.

Warmer tones, melodious vocals and childlike animation remind the audience of the beauty of little things

Against the backdrop of the Japanese dialogue between a mother and daughter, Griff's gentle voice as an anchor for adorable claymations, the sum of all these creative nuances illuminates loving narratives between family, friends and communities.

For many, this holiday season will not be a festive one, but one that is fraught with complex emotions. These ads tenderly remind us all that even during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, nothing can interfere with the priceless joys of life: self-esteem, empathy, kindness, laughter, connections with friends and family and much more.

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