A family shares its Swiss Chalet Festive Special, 2020 style

Who: Swiss Chalet and Upstream for creative and production, with media handled by Genuine Media.

What: A new ad for Swiss Chalet’s famous Christmas-time meal deal, the Festive Special

When & Where: The ad started running Nov. 1 and will run up until Christmas.

Why: Swiss Chalet needed a new way to present its longstanding Christmas tradition, a massively important promotion for the chain that dates back more than 25 years.

The challenge was creating an ad that could present both the dine-in experience and the delivery option. “They are a full serve restaurant with dining rooms and they have a very extensive delivery system, so it was a balancing act of what did we want to highlight in the storyline,” said Paul Wales, Upstream founder, creative director. “I think it was a great call on their end to incorporate delivery and dine-in.”

How: The ad shows a family of three setting out to have their Festive Special family dinner with grandparents. The daughter is excited about seeing her grandparents, because “Papa” always gives her the chocolates that come with the meal. It’s a recognizable storyline for a lot of Canadians for whom the Festive Special is a long-standing tradition, said Wales. “We wanted to reflect that tradition but we wanted to give it a bit of a twist this year given what is going on.”

The twist is the grandparents are at home enjoying their Festive Special via delivery, and they join the family virtually on a video call—though the grandparents still make sure the little girls gets the extra chocolate.

Was there much discussion about showing in-restaurant dining? “I think they had a lot of discussion about that internally. But when we were conceiving the scripts and the storylines we were all in the same boat by that point,” said Wales.

The “now more than ever” score: 5. The video call visit with grandparents makes this an obvious COVID ad. But unlike some other Christmas creative that hits the “now more than ever” idea pretty deliberately, this is less about “now more than ever” see your grandparents, and more about here’s how you keep the tradition going.

David Brown