Pop Goes Hollywood For Xmas With Coca-Cola's 'Santa Stories'


Coca-Cola has always gone all-in on holiday marketing, but this year big Hollywood names are on board for a “Santa Stories” campaign.

Coca-Cola teamed up with directors Steven Caple Jr. (“Creed II”)  and Bryce Dallas Howard (the “Jurassic World” franchise) to bring cinematic flair  to a pair of branded short films that also contain a star-studded cast, available on Prime Video Direct, Amazon Freevee and Coca-Cola’s YouTube channel. A 30-second trailer promotes the shorts as “Celebrating the Santa in all of us.” Each entry takes a very different approach to that theme, however.

Oscar-winner (“The Help”) and nominee Octavia Spencer stars in the 15-minute “Ho Ho Heist” alongside Scoot McNairy (“Argo,” “12 Years A Slave”). The thriller-style short, directed by Caple Jr., finds Santa in prison, being questioned by cops and facing the prospect of spending Christmas Eve behind bars, alongside a down-on-his-luck McNairy, who gets left behind during the opening scene’s heist. The film injects Santa into an unexpected genre, with the Coke product placement revolving around an alarm-triggering bottle in its opening minutes, and a family tradition of leaving out cookies and a bottle of Coke for Santa preceding a surprise reveal in its concluding scene.



 “The Note,” directed by Howard, stars Irish actor Colm Meaney (“Three Day Millionaire,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”) as “The No Man,” so called because the Scrooge-esque character only ever seems to say “no” -- although at the end of a day of fishing, he does he give the only catch to his scene-stealing canine co-star. Predictably, by the end of its 10-minute runtime, the character's holiday spirit is restored via an on-brand message in a bottle, with Coca-Cola being more restrained about its brand insertion (with the exception of one long shot that really lingers on that bottle).

“The iconic Coke bottle is part of the narrative, not a product placement. If you take the Coke bottle out of the story, there is no story,”  Islam ElDessouky, global head of creative strategy and content for Coca-Cola, said in a statement about "The Note."

“Santa Stories” builds off a branded content campaign from Coca-Cola last year, while upping the production and storytelling bonafides, and employing top talent.

“We took steps to boost the caliber of who’s in front of and behind the camera, so we sought out talent we knew could bring these stories to life in different ways,” ElDessouky added. “It’s one thing to have Octavia Spencer in a 30-second commercial, but a completely different ballgame to work with her on a short film where she’s in her natural element. She’s playing a character and representing certain values, which is super rich as a brand to tap into.”

The campaign is also part of Coca-Cola’s co-creation model, which the company claims is designed to enhance its brand storytelling through collaboration with the Hollywood community.

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