The hero of Coca-Cola’s new Christmas TV commercial is not Father Christmas or a Snowman or a cuddly toy come to life, but a rugged lightly-bearded offshore wind technician.
The two-and-a-half-minute almost-wordless tearjerker, directed by Oscar-winning actor-writer-director Taika Waititi, tells the heroic travails of the renewables worker and his attempts to get a letter from his daughter to Santa Claus.
Our nameless hero is eating lunch at the bottom of an offshore wind turbine (and swigging from a glass bottle of Coke), when he sees the letter in his lunchbox and looks up to see a postal boat collecting the mail from a nearby offshore substation (note to Taika: postal services do not collect mail from offshore substations, it’s not an oil rig, dude).
He then races off in a tiny two-man inflatable dingy to catch the unlikely floating postmen (note to Taika: offshore wind technicians don’t use inflatable dinghies to get to and from the turbines), and the tiny vessel breaks down before he can reach them — and a whale leaps into the air, casting our hero into the sea.
After waking up on a beach, somehow still clutching the now-soggy letter, he becomes determined to deliver it to Santa himself — and the journey is manly, selfless, heroic, epic and dangerous, involving cliff-climbing, swamps, forests, rafts, skis and deep snow.
To give away the ending of this concise masterpiece of sentimental consumerism would be a travesty, but needless to say, Coca-Cola manages to save the day, with viewers on YouTube and Twitter reporting that the mini-blockbuster turned them into blubbering wrecks.
It is a slight change of pace for the New Zealand director, who is best known for writing, directing and starring in a comedy about a boy whose imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler (Jojo Rabbit) and a mockumentary about a household of cheeky, centuries-old murderous vampires living in modern-day suburbia (What We Do in the Shadows).
It is also a change of pace from Coke, which has markedly improved on its usual festive nonsense in which kids run into the snowy streets to excitedly watch a glowing truck drive past while a breathless, chugging soundtrack promises that ‘holidays are coming’.
And the ultimate message is an important one: Don’t forget to post important letters before you get to your offshore wind turbine. It’ll save you a lot of bother. Especially if the motor on your two-man inflatable dinghy breaks down. And you miss the floating postman.