I know what I’m about to say will likely result in me being labelled The Grinch. And maybe my head wasn’t screwed on just right. But am I the only Who in Whoville who was left feeling just a bit deflated by WestJet’s wildly popular “Christmas Miracle” video?

Yes, it’s a viral sensation. Yes, it’s being lauded by everyone it seems (tall and small). And I will grant that it’s creative. And well-produced. And touching, in some ways.

All that said, though, it falls short. Put another way, I think its heart is just a size or two too small.

How so?

Because the message—from a company that makes its living bringing people together—is about stuff.

The kid gets an Android tablet. The Dad gets his socks and underwear. (Sad, how we end up wanting socks and underwear. Such is life.) A Mom sobs (inexplicably) over her camera.

And the big finale? The family gets the big TV.

I’m trying to think of a classic Christmas story that so blatantly celebrates materialism while entirely missing the bigger picture. Let’s see…George Bailey realized his life was worth living because he had rich friends. (Wait, maybe it was that he just had friends, period.) Scrooge saves his soul from damnation because he buys the Cratchits a turkey. (Or was it that he finally took old dead Marley’s advice that “mankind was my business!”) And the Grinch of course learned that the Whos down in Whoville were just in it for the tricycles, popcorn and plums!

So there you go. I wanted a good video to be great. I wanted someone, say, to wish to spend the holidays with a loved one who couldn’t make it. I wanted it to end with a reunion that wouldn’t have happened without the help of a well-meaning brand. One that—even if it took some puzzling and puzzling—realized that maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store.

When trying to make a real connection, that’s a lesson all brands and all marketers would do well to remember.



David Bailey is an Executive Vice President for Airfoil, an integrated marketing communications firm, with offices in Silicon Valley, Detroit, London and Hong Kong.  Follow David on Twitter: @dbails