Etsy Crafts A 5-Star Christmas Fable

Etsy Crafts A 5-Star Christmas Fable


Thoughtful gifts are a common theme in Christmas ads – it’s what Britain’s John Lewis based their multi-award-winning campaign on, and the story of someone getting the perfect gift creates a readymade emotional arc for a retailer.

So it’s not surprising that online market Etsy – where individual makers create and sell handmade gifts for customers – leans on this theme in its Christmas ad. It’s a natural fit for a brand which is all about unique gifts. Few other retailers can use it with such credibility.

Of course, it’s one thing having a brand which fits the theme. It’s another to actually execute a great Christmas ad. You need to tell the right story and tell it well.

The scores from the Test Your Ad platform show us that Etsy has done exactly this. It’s a rare 5-Star holiday ad and also lands an exceptional short-term Spike score. Not only that, it tells a bold story, touching explicitly on race in a way that’s unusual for any ad, let alone a high-performing Christmas one.

The ad tells the story of a Black grandfather and grandson out doing their Christmas shopping. The boy is loving Christmas and is thrilled to meet Santa, and the grandpa is loving how excited he is too. But the older man also notices something about the Santa in the grotto, and the Santas on people’s bags and Christmas jumpers – none of them look like him. Don’t Black dads and grandads get to play Santa too?

The answer is yes, they do, with Etsy coming through to let the boys’ parents give the older man a jumper with a Black Father Christmas on it. A problem is solved with a thoughtful gift, and we see a jump in Happiness among the viewers to push the ad into 5-Star territory.

Etsy’s ad gets a lot of story into only 30 seconds, and it’s worth thinking about what it doesn’t show as well as what it does. There’s a moment of joy at the end as the grandfather gets to feel more included at Christmas, but there’s no moment of sadness or exclusion before that. On rewatching you can spot the signs that the grandpa is a little regretful that he can’t be Santa, but he also makes the best of the situation and is always joining in with the boy’s delight.

It’s a good way to handle the story, as it keeps the focus on Christmas and happiness, which allows the ad to make its point about inclusion subtly and effectively. It’s also a clever way of contrasting the impersonal nature of mall shopping with the far more personal gifts you can get from Etsy. Both these points could be made with a lot less subtlety – but the ad works far better for keeping its messages low-key.