This Torrid Love Story About Santa Is an Allegory for the Climate Impact of Christmas

Norwegian Postal Service once again tackles social issues in holiday campaign


The uncomfortable truth behind Christmas is that many beloved festive traditions are bad for the planet. Awareness is growing around the environmental impact of the holiday season, which often comes with increased consumption, food waste and excess plastic packaging for gifts and wrapping paper.  

Just days after the end of COP 27 (the United Nations Climate Change conference), a new ad from Posten (the Norwegian Postal Service) tackles the environmental damage of Christmas head on. 

The short film, created by Norwegian agency POL, addresses this issue through the allegory of a tumultuous romance. At first, a couple fall head over heels for each other in an idyllic rural setting and seem to be the “perfect match,” as the male narrator recalls. They also have a “shared purpose” to “give the children what they wanted.”

But over time, their relationship falls apart as their motivations diverge. They break up as the woman witnesses the man’s greedy habits of consumption. She accuses him of not taking any responsibility for his actions, crying out in despair, “What world are you living in? This is all we’ve got!”

It becomes clear early on in the film that the man is Father Christmas, and the woman is Mother Earth. After Mother Earth leaves Santa, he wonders, “Can’t we find a way that we can live together?”

Posten

Santa later realizes the error of his ways, and the two are reunited when Mother Earth decides to give him another chance. Father Christmas declares to her, “I can’t live without you. No one can.”

The ad ends with the warning: “Mother Earth has no more chances to give.” It informs viewers that this year only 10 of the largest companies in Norway—including Posten—cut their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, according to PWC Norway’s Climate Index. 

Posten wants to motivate other companies to step up their efforts to fight climate change. As one of the region’s largest logistics companies, it also acknowledged that it is part of the problem. Posten has cut 51% of its CO2 emissions so far and aims for all of its distribution to be emissions-free by 2030. 

A twist on festive tropes

Posten is no stranger to tackling social issues through its Christmas ads. Last year, “When Harry Met Santa” showed a positive portrayal of LGBTQ+ relationships to mark the 50-year anniversary of Norway abolishing a law prohibiting same-sex relations. It told the story of a man falling in love with another man—who happened to be Santa—and went on to win a gold Lion in the film category at Cannes Lions. 

Posten

In 2020, Posten’s Christmas ad reflected the divisive political climate by depicting Santa as an angry white man with a striking resemblance to former American President Donald Trump. 

Posten

Rikke Sofie Jacobsen and Pia Emilie Lystad, the creative team at POL who made both the latest Posten ad and “When Harry Met Santa,” said this year they wanted to address climate change through an unexpected angle. 

“Instead of focusing on cold numbers and climate anxiety, this is a love story where we have emphasized interpersonal feelings and the relationships we have with those closest to us,” they explained to Adweek in a joint statement. 

Sean Meehan, who directed the film through production company Arts and Sciences, added that it was “exceedingly rare in advertising” to be able to tell a “nuanced story … with such a critical message.” 

“I hope more brands will be as brave and honest as Posten have been on this project about the existential crisis we collectively face,” Meehan added.

Posten is not the first brand to talk about climate change in a Christmas ad. Last year, for example, Australian financial services company Erste Groupe released an animated film in which a father-to-be adopts a more sustainable lifestyle during the holidays as he envisions a better planet for his future daughter. 

CREDITS:

Client: Posten (Norwegian Postal Service)

Campaign manager: Hege Barbara Aarhus
Marketing director: Monica Solberg 
Agency: POL
Copywriter: Rikke Sofie Jacobsen 
Art director: Pia Emilie Lystad
Planner: Simon Karlsson
Account director: Marius Eriksen
Account manager: Kristin E.B. Scheele
Designer: Benjamin Rogers 
Motion designer: Ole Jacob Bøe Skattum
Film production: Arts & Sciences 
Director: Sean Meehan
DOP: Sean Meehan
Executive producers: Sam McGarry, James Bland
Head of production: Lauren Highman
A&S rep Scandinavia: Tom Rickard
Line production: BAS Productions
Producer: Andrej Caruso
Production manager: Alja Primec
Production designer: Miha Knific
Costume designer: Valter Kobal
Editing company: Cut+Run 
Editors: Moss Eletreby, Steve Gandolfi
Assistant editor: Thomas De la Rosa
Managing partner: Michelle Eskin
Executive producer: Amburr Farls
Head of production: Brady Fiero
Producer: Brian Scharwath
Sound mix: Massive Music 
Sound design: Simon Kane
Foley: John Simpson, FeetnFrames
Final mix: Simon Kane
Music: Turning Studios 
Composer: Elliott Wheeler
Post production: Alter Ego 
Executive producer: Hilda Pereira
Producer: Andrew Tavares
Senior colorist: Eric Whipp
Lead VFX artist: Joel Osis
VFX artists: Igor Boros, Eric Perrella
DMP artist: Bojan Zoric
VFX assistants: Victoria Gaston, Nupur Desai
Color assistant: Daniel Saavedra

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