Chick-fil-A Promotes Family Time in Animated Holiday Short

The brand isn't revealed until the end

chick-fil-a "the time shop" ad little girl holding red time shop "gift card"
Sam, the hero of the ad's story, gives the gift of "together time" to her family.
Chick-Fil-A

An animated short features doe-eyed Sam, two kittens named Tick and Tock and a mysterious shop owner, who all come together in “The Time Shop.” All it needs to make it into a Disney movie is a musical number about building a snowman.

The two-minute commercial focuses on the message of spending time with loved ones instead of on daily distractions during the holidays. The McCann-made short, which premiered on NBC Thanksgiving morning, centers on time.

It’s not until the final seconds that the spot reveals that it’s a Chick-fil-A ad.

The whimsical charms of “The Time Shop” and Sam’s big, sad cartoon eyes are the bells and whistles that overpower the “Closed on Sundays” sign at the door of the magical shop that hints at the brand behind the fairytale. 

To make sure the idea of “together time” would also resonate with its audience, Chick-fil-A commissioned a national survey about the subject before launching the multimedia and experiential campaign, which not only includes the saccharine ad but also incorporates an interactive website and a non-retail activation based in New York. 

“When we asked people what matters most to them, the resounding response was, ‘time,'” said Ashley Callahan, Chick-fil-A’s senior marketing director. 

In the survey conducted by The Bantam Group, 73% of respondents said they want more time with their loved ones. Furthermore, 93% said quality time with the people they care about is the single most crucial ingredient to creating blissful holiday moments, surpassing food, decor, music, parties and gifts. And 56% said that spending time together with loved ones brightens their day. 

Fans can visit the Time Shop in New York, a non-retail experience where they’re encouraged to explore custom rooms inspired by different ways of sharing quality time: Story Time, Play Time and Snack Time. The last room is inspired by Giving Time, where they can create a free Time Card for someone special. Site visitors can print and personalize the beautifully foiled envelopes with a duration of time and an activity they want to share with a loved one in the upcoming year. Fans of the spot have already gifted 124,000 days worth of “together time.” The cards are printed and shipped for free anywhere in the U.S.  

The Time Shop is free to visit with online reservations and open to the public at 105 Wooster Street until Dec. 16, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. (It’s closed on Sundays, of course.) 

The spot didn’t resonate with all viewers, generating backlash for the fast-food chain’s donations to organizations that discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community.

Joe Reid, a self-described “docile homosexual” and the managing editor of Primetimer.com, was not touched by the ad’s “Boo-from-Monsters-Inc-esque charms”: 

Guy Lodge, freelance film critic for Variety and The Observer, summed up the general sentiment of the thread: “‘Closed Sunday’ is a clue that something very bad is coming.”

A spokesperson for McCann told Adweek that Chick-fil-A had been working on this campaign for quite some time and is meant to be a gift. “Providing the inspiration for quality time together to people who are in need of more of it is something we think we feel uniquely positioned to do. Advertising that is less product focused and a bit more grounded in the spirit of the holiday season.”

Credits:

Chick-fil-A

Jon Bridges, Chief Marketing Officer
Joe Saracino, SVP, Brand Strategy, Advertising & Media
Ashley Callahan, Sr. Director, Integrated Creative
Liz Griffith, Sr. Principal Team Leader, Integrated Creative
Beth Grant, Principal Team Leader, Integrated Creative
David Rowe, Principal Team Leader, Integrated Creative
Nikki Long, Principal Creative Lead, Brand Strategy
Katie Joiner, Principal Team Leader, Integrated Creative
Alexis Carter, Sr. Project Coordinator, Integrated Creative
Chelsea Lee, Principal Team Leader, Public Relations
Emily Randall, Team Leader, Integrated Creative
Emily Thomson, Product Lead, Marketing Technology
Kate Neyhart, Sr. Platform Lead, Innovation
Dustin Britt, Director, Marketing Investment
John Shackelford, Principal Team Leader, Brand Strategy
Jason Cannon – Sr. Specialist, Menu & Packaging
Natalie Williams – Counsel, Corporate Legal
Kaitlyn White – Principal Team Leader, Customer Digital Experience
Jeri Sute, Sr. Director, Corporate Legal
Ashley Rondorf, Sr. Specialist, Food Safety & Restaurant Solutions
Rachel Geist, Counsel, Corporate Legal
Bill Hightower, Director, Corporate Legal
Kelsey Moore, Sr. Team Leader, Customer Technology Solutions
Tyrone Dillard, Sr. Director, Real Estate
Chelsea Lee, Principal Team Leader, Public Relations
Brian Lindley, Executive Director, New Restaurant Growth
Lynah Stone, Sr. Project Coordinator, Integrated Creative
Rich Cutter, Sr. Principal Team Leader, In-house Creative Agency
Alok Nath – Principal Team Leader, In-house Creative Agency
Ross Grimes, Principal Team Leader, Marketing Investment
Chelsea Owen, Sr. Project Specialist, In-House Creative Agency
Haley Shue, Sr. Project Coordinator, Integrated Creative
Laura Reichert, Sr. Leader Administrator, Integrated Creative
Natalie Watson, Principal Program Lead, Customer & Market Insights
Allison Fortune, Project Lead, Restaurant Communications
Brittany Seifert, Project Lead, CFA One Membership Int’l
Arlenis Almonte, Sr. Project Lead, Integrated Creative
Hannah Wagner, Project Lead, Operator Communications
Hannah Cataldo, Project Lead, Operator Communications

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