The Bear for Walmart: Back to the roots of Christmas with Cossette

"Holiday magic starts with believing". Carlos Moreno, Chief Creative Officer at Cossette (Canada) talks about the first Canadian campaign for Walmart made for Christmas this year

Carlos Moreno
Chief Creative Officer Cossette, Toronto

Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about and what was your role in the creation?

This was our first campaign for Walmart Canada and it’s about the magic of coming home for the holidays – but from the toy’s perspective. We saw this holiday campaign as a way to position Walmart not just as a brand that saves families money, but as a brand that helps them live better. The overall message for this 60-second commercial is Holiday magic starts with believing and it tells the story of a lonely teddy bear who wanders the store after hours, gets into mischief (and eats his feelings in a memorable scene in the ice cream aisle) before being spotted the next day by a loving dad for his daughter. We wanted to create an emotional connection between family moments and the Walmart experience.

Was the brief for this holiday campaign any different than the usual? What challenges did that present?

The brief was similar to others in terms of business objectives. What was different was the approach we took, the decision to really focus on unleashing the emotional component. Walmart is known for low prices and while this story doesn’t ignore the idea of lower prices, it’s more about the feelings that are generated when you’re able to create magic for the ones you love.

What inspired you to approach the campaign this way?

It was clear from talking to the client that the opportunity was connecting with people – elevating what “the lowest price” means in people’s minds in terms of what it means they can do with and for their family. Seeing a child open the perfect gift is a magical moment that everyone – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends – can all identify with.

What’s a “behind the scenes” story that only you know about?

When we ‘casted’ the bear, we chose the cutest, most affordable bear we could find at Walmart. He was there on set, tied rather unceremoniously to a broom handle as a stand in for the animation magic that happened in post-production. To be honest it was a relatively boring shoot! Collaborating on post-production with our animation studio partner a52 was definitely the most fun part – working with them to see how much emotion we could bring to a little teddy bear. We also talked quite a lot about the teddy’s bottom and just how plush it should be.

Are there any holiday ad tropes that you think should be retired by now?

The expected “Christmas Music” drives me crazy. I think you’ve got to really reinvent the power of music when it comes to the holidays. For example the emotional journey of the song we chose works really well with the visuals and the story and lends an authentic sense of wonder, without being too overtly “Christmassy”. We listened to over 100 songs and this song (Bring it On Home to Me by Sam Cooke) is the one we kept coming back to.

What is your favorite holiday campaign of all time?

I love the John Lewis holiday campaigns. I think my favourite one is “Monty the Penguin” from 2014.

What can we expect from your agency in 2019?

We’re going to continue to solve our clients’ business problems through creativity, leveraging data to create great work and one-to-one experiences between brands and customers.

What do you think the advertising industry's New Year’s resolution should be?

I think agencies should continue to strive to do better work – and in doing so, inspire each other to do great work.