Marshalls “Blitzen”

Amid all the grim economic news, consumers won’t welcome holiday-shopping commercials that are overly cheery. But do they want to see lost reindeer wandering listlessly through the streets? It’s hard not to wonder whether this spot for the Marshalls retail chain (via GSD&M Idea City of Austin, Texas) has done too good a job of avoiding excessive bubbliness. Granted, there’s something clever in the story line here – i.e., that an ill-planned holiday display has allowed some reindeer to get loose and wander into traffic, creating a tie-up that causes the owner of a boutique to cancel his delayed shipment of fancy activewear, thus allowing Marshalls to grab it at “an insanely low price” and offer it to us as a great bargain. This comically elaborate chain of events builds up to the motto (well-suited to the times), “It pays to be shamelessy shopportunistic.” Still, from the sad-looking boutique owner to the sad-looking reindeer to the sad-looking truck driver who’s stuck in the traffic jam, there’s just too much sadness to suit a viewer who’s trying (recession notwithstanding) to get into some semblance of the holiday spirit.–Mark Dolliver