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Xfinity’s Christmas ad sees ET reunite with Elliot 37 years after the classic film’s release. As commercials increasingly become standout media events during the festive season, brands may harness nostalgia to bring a sense of magic and comfort to viewers and appear more relatable. We explore the insights behind this and why nostalgia sells during the holidays.

Created with consultation from Steven Spielberg, the ad shows ET coming back to Earth and reconnecting with a much older Elliot. The alien celebrates Christmas with Elliot’s family and learns about how technology connects families together in a present-day context. While some viewers called the ad ‘heartwarming’, others have criticized Xfinity and parent company Comcast for using a beloved character to sell its services through ‘emotional exploitation’. “Our goal is to show how Xfinity and Sky technology connects family, friends and loved ones, which is so important during the holidays,'' says Peter Intermaggio, SVP for marketing communications at Comcast Cable. “The classic friendship between ET and Elliott resonates around the world, and their story became a very meaningful way to bring our company’s consumer technology to life.”

  Xfinity's mini ET sequel plays on power of Xmas nostalgia
Xfinity | YouTube (2019) ©

Despite all of the communication channels people have access to in the digital age, 40% of Americans report feeling alone and 43% say their connections are no longer meaningful. With the holidays centered around relationships with other people, nostalgia can evoke feelings of connection and comfort, and it’s especially prevalent in advertising that seeks to pull at people's heartstrings and get them warmly reminiscing. Across the Atlantic, Tesco’s nostalgic Xmas ad seeks to comfort Britons as they deal with an unstable political climate. Meanwhile, revamped versions of iconic tech products like the Motorola Razr and Sony Walkman give tech fans gadgets with a sentimental spin.

Luana Sambell is a Behavioural Analyst at Canvas8. She holds a degree in Commerce and a Masters in Consumer Behaviour. She’s passionate about cultural trends and the latest happenings in retail. Outside of work, you can find her exploring different cultures through food or catching live music whenever possible.


11 Dec 19
2 min read

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