Ad of the Day: William Shatner Croons ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in Spellbinding British Travel Ad

Teddy bear tale from the director of 'Meet the Superhumans'

When William Shatner released his first album, The Transformed Man, in 1968, he practically invented the genre of overly dramatic lyrical recitations to music. Of course, it wasn't well received, and he was ceaselessly mocked. But his unique style would become popular again decades later, as the Internet found those old recordings and did what the Internet does best: elevate the absurd to the sublime.

Then Ben Folds, a longtime secret fan of The Transformed Man, created an album with Shatner called Has Been in 2004, and suddenly, that special Shat style wasn't just hilarious and inexplicable, it was downright in demand.

So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Thomson Holidays bases its latest commercial around Shatner's cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" off his 2011 album Seeking Major Tom.

Thomson wants you to take a vacation that washes away the slings and arrows of your everyday life in the waters of the Caribbean. And in this spot, by London agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay, it woos you with a version of The Velveteen Rabbit—as a neglected, one-eyed teddy bear learns to smile again by vacationing in Jamaica and falls in love with an off-label My Little Pony.

The brand's previous ad, the award-winning "Simon the Ogre," won hearts and minds with similar fairy-tale storytelling. But of course, it wasn't cut to a track by William Shatner.

Frankly, the cute bear story would have been pretty darn good without the Shatman. It's beautifully and carefully considered and shot—not surprisingly, given that director Tom Tagholm's credits include the incredible "Meet the Superhumans" spot for the 2012 Paralympic Games.

But somehow, Shatner's reading elevates the work from a potentially slapstick exploration of the damage popsicles can do to plush into a surprisingly emotional journey that will have you feeling for the trials and tribulations of an inanimate animal.

Which means it could also give Thomson the fairy-tale sales it's dreaming of.


Client: Thomson Holidays

Spot: "A Film About a Smile"

Agency: Beattie McGuinness Bungay, London

Executive Creative Director: Trevor Beattie

Creative Director: Pat Burns

Creative: Rachel Miles, Michael Tsim

Producer: Gill Loftus

Production Company: Park Pictures

Director: Tom Tagholm

Executive Producer: Stephen Brierley

Producer: Fran Thompson

Production Manager: Ananda Coulier

Director of Photography: Martin Ruhe

Model Maker: Anarchy

Soft Technician, Teddy Bear Wrangler: Danielle Boyne

Postproduction: Realise Studio

Voiceover: William Shatner

@rebeccacullers Rebecca Cullers is a contributor to Adweek.