Microsoft’s ‘3D Holiday’ Ad Is a Whimsical, Out-of-Earth Inclusion Parable

Where values meet imagination

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we’re barraged with branded messages that appeal to our better selves—quiet, almost logoless stories about family, acceptance and selfless giving.

Microsoft’s “3D Holiday,” created by m:united//McCann and Blk-Ops, is no exception … except it leaves the human family behind. Mythological creatures and extraterrestrials merit kindness, too. (That’s pretty much all Star Trek was ever about.)

The minute-long spot follows a young woman who grabs her “Gabe the Yeti” doll and dives into a poster of outer space, where Gabe becomes a real friend. In spirit, it’s got a Where the Wild Things Are vibe, except without all that propaganda about kid-eating and the need to scare monsters into submission.

Instead, our heroine and her yeti gather lonely new friends, stranded on empty rocks like The Little Prince, and throw a party on a deserted shard of asteroid that’s all decked out for an Earthling-style holiday bash.

“The holiday season is a time for community, inclusion—and imagination,” says Kathleen Hall, Microsoft’s corporate vp of brand, advertising and research. “Our goal was to bring all of those together and invite people to join us in creating a kinder, more inclusive world through the power and magic of 3D.”

The work is promotes Microsoft’s Surface Book, which makes cameos at the beginning and end, where we find the woman in bed, creating the interstellar world and all its creatures with a stylus.

Most of the characters that appear in the ad are inspired by those available on Remix 3D, a Microsoft library and community site for sharing and building on creations made with Paint 3D or other 3D programs.

“3D Holiday” went live yesterday. It isn’t original, but neither is it especially offensive, which is itself a success in times when we do badly need inclusion reminders. That the latter is also critical to our imaginations is nicely encapsulated by the closing words, “Create a better world.”

It’s difficult to change the systems and cultural constructs that discourage and crush so many people. But when you’re lucky enough to work in a “creative” sector, one of the best lessons you can learn is that the work you make—down to the faces you include, and how you incorporate them—can change paradigms, altering what people think is possible.

We still have doubts about the merits of a stylus. But hey, call us old-fashioned.

Campaign: 3D Holiday
Client / Brand / Product: Microsoft / Windows / Remix 3D / Paint 3D
Agency: m:united//McCann

Director: Roman Coppola
Managing Director/Executive Producer: Lisa Margulis
HOP/Executive Producer: Elizabeth Minzes
Producer: Mary Livingston
DP: Peiter Vermeer

Client Credits
Kathleen Hall, CVP, Brand, Advertising and Research, MSFT
Deana Singleton, GM, Global Advertising
Stacey Terrien, Director, Global Advertising
Jenny Leahy, Director, Global Advertising
Hannah Westing, Manager, Global Advertising
Danna Brokaw, Manager, Global Advertising
Alberto Cerriteno, Art Director, Windows Next
Dawn Novak, Manager, Global Advertising

Creative: m:united//McCann & Blk-Ops
Sean Bryan – Co-CCO
Tom Murphy – Co-CCO
Andrew Panay – Founder, Blk-Ops
Brian Klugman – CCO, Blk-Ops
Daniela Vojta – EVP, Executive Creative Director
Susan Young – EVP, Executive Creative Director
Todd Brown – Creative Director
Dan Kim – Creative Director
Elina Rudkovskaya – Copywriter
Andre DeCastro – Senior Designer
Alicia Foor – Creative Technologist

Tyler Gibb – Concept Designer/Storyboard Artist

Aaron Kovan – EVP, Head of Integrated Production
Mel Senecal – VP, Senior Producer
Monique Fitzpatrick – Producer
Sean Flanigan – Digital Producer
Charlotte Popper – Digital Producer
Project Management
Stella Warkman – SVP, Director of Project Management
Jessica Jacobson, Project Manager
John Dunleavy – President
Kevin Nelson – Managing Director

Tina Galley – EVP, Executive Account Director
Darla Price – SVP, Group Account Director
Sarah Keiber – SVP, Group Account Director
Pat Six – Account Director
Ellie Choi – Account Supervisor
Molly Raker – Account Supervisor

Michelle Kiely – EVP, Global Strategy Director
Todd Sussman – SVP, Group Strategy Director
Justin Ballheim – Strategy Director
Jordan Berger – Senior Social Strategist

Eric Johnson – SVP, Executive Music Producer
Sam Belkin – Music Associate

Production Company: The Director’s Bureau
Edit/Animation/Post: MPC
Animation Director: Marc Smith & MPC Creative
Managing Director: Camila De Biaggi
Head Of Production: Brendan Kahn
VFX Supervisor: Rob Hodgson
Producers: Katie Buckley, Matthew Loranger
3D Supervisor: Chris Bernier
2D Lead: Tobey Lindback
Editors: Ethan Simmons, Catherine Gionfriddo
Colorist: Adrian Seery
Mix: Heard City
Media: Carat

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.