For many people caught up in the insanity of holiday shopping, it can be easy to forget that Christmas gets its name from Jesus and is a celebration of his birth.
The acclaimed French duo of premium pay channel Canal+ and agency BETC Paris play with the modern and traditional notions of the holiday in their new ad “The Wise Man.”
In case you’re not familiar with the Nativity story, three wise men follow a shining star beckoning them to Bethlehem. There, they find their Messiah, Jesus, who was just born to Joseph and Mary, sharing the stables with a menagerie of animals.
This version follows the basic plot, but the glow calling to our hero turns out to be quite a different surprise:
The creative team knew they were taking a risk by poking fun at a religious scene, but said they respect the holiday, even referring to it as “history.”
They felt they were justified because “to twist the truth is one of the great strengths of a good storyteller and creative storytelling is at the heart of the Canal+ brand,” Ellen Broome, head of international communications at BETC Paris, told Business Insider in an email.
Canal+ gets almost 40 per cent of its new subscribers during the holiday season, and the ad’s punchline, “we believe in entertainment,” refers to the fact that many people look forward more to great television programming than the religious aspect of the holiday.
Broome said the ad has had a good reception in France among both the traditional and non-religious.
“The goal is of course not to upset anyone but rather to make people laugh and take a step away from the Santas, lights, and snowflakes that tend to signify advertising at this time of the year,” she said.
The 2011 commercial “The Bear” by BETC Paris and Canal+, in which a living bearskin rug is an eccentric film director, is the most awarded television ad in history.
BETC is also responsible for Evian’s “Baby and Me,” the third most-shared ad of the year.
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