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KOHL’S HOLIDAY TEAR-JERKER CENTERS ON A FRIENDSHIP BORN DURING THE PANDEMIC

Ad Age

November 04, 2020

By Ann-Christine Diaz


The holiday spots have been rolling in, and retailer Kohl’s recently dropped a tear-jerker that speaks directly to the times. Created out of YardNYC, it tells the story of a little girl who befriends an elderly woman who lives next door, despite the restrictions the pandemic has imposed on life right now.

The girl meets her new buddy through the window, and day by day, the two bond as they exchange questions and messages on paper signs. One day, however, the woman fails to appear. As time goes by and her friend’s last message starts to peel away from the pane, the girl becomes more morose. But when Christmas comes around, she gets her special wish—her new buddy returns (a hospital bracelet on her wrist subtly reveals why she’s been away for so long).

Willie Nelson’s cover of “The Rainbow Connection,” (originally sung by Kermit the Frog in 1979’s “The Muppet Movie”) brings even more emotional heft to the tale. 

The tune also underscores the “connection” theme of the campaign, according to Kohl’s CMO Greg Revelle, who unveiled the spot on Ad Age’s Remotely last week. 

Speaking to Ad Age’s Senior Reporter Adrianne Pasquarelli, Revelle explained that for COVID times, the company’s approach to the holidays took a different turn. “Anybody who remembers our ads for the last couple years, we’ve really been fun, and bombastic and energetic,” he said. “This year was just a different time.”

Looking back on consumer insights over the year, “the one thing we think customers really want right now is greater connection,” he said. “So we felt that would be a really powerful message for our holiday spot. Also Kohl’s is a real family-oriented brand so in many ways it’s very core to us that we connect people. We thought we wanted to tell that story as part of our campaign.”

Check out the Remotely episode to hear more from Revelle on how the brand developed the ad and shifted its holiday strategy during the pandemic.