Bell shows its history of connecting loved ones during the holidays

Who: Bell, with Zulu Alpha Kilo for creative and strategy, media by Media Experts, production by Scout’s Honour (Mark Zibert directing), Zulubot for editing and Grayson for music.

What: Two Christmas brand spots—”I’ll be Home,” and “In the Key of Bell”—that, while very different, depict Bell’s long history of connecting people (it used a similar approach last year).

When & Where: The campaign launched Dec. 2 on TV, outdoor and social, with a TikTok execution still to come.

Why: “Bell’s goal is to advance how Canadians connect with each other, and the world,” said Devorah Lithwick, Bell’s senior vice-president, brand. “And certainly in a year like 2020—where we have needed to stay apart to stay safe—being able to connect with our friends, family and colleagues through technology has allowed us to be together in a different way.”

Both ads were meant to show in a heart-warming way how Bell connects Canadians.

Why two different ads? “The plan was to have one holiday spot,” said Lithwick. “When Zulu first presented everyone had a ton of heart for both ‘I’ll be Home’ and ‘In the Key of Bell,’ and we found that they worked really well together. Double the merry.”

How I: “In the Key of Bell,” the more playful of the two ads, uses ringing Bell telephones through history followed by the dings and pings of more modern telecom devices as the bells chiming out through the popular Christmas tune “Carol of the Bells.” It ends with the super: “Let Joy Ring Out.”

How II: “I’ll be Home,” the more earnest of the two, also provides a retrospective of how Bell has connected Canadians at Christmas. Some settings appear in both ads, but the tone for the 60-second “I’ll be Home” spot is very different. A cast of characters (starting with a WWII soldier) speak, text and email the lyrics from the iconic Bing Crosby song “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” to loved ones. Some of the characters are actually on their way home, while those in present-day settings are staying connected through Bell.

“We show some of the ways that people are connecting while apart: the couple kissing under the mistletoe, [a] family singing to a loved one on a tablet and showing the presents under the tree to someone who can’t be there this year,” said Lithwick. “It closes with the notion ‘if only in my dreams’ to imply that we may not be together physically, but we can still stay connected through Bell technology over the holidays.”

“We wanted to create each video in a way that would keep you entertained and engaged even on repeated viewings,” said Zulu Alpha Kilo CEO and chief creative officer Zak Mroueh. “Crafting an epic journey through Bell’s legacy of holidays through the ages fit perfectly… Our team meticulously crafted each scene, working closely with our partners at Bell and Mark Zibert to ensure each period in history was accurately reflected.”

And we quote: “Bell has been helping to connect Canadians for the past 140 years. Over the years the methods and ways we connect have surely changed greatly but the notion of connecting will always remain timeless.” —Devorah Lithwick, senior vice-president, brand, Bell Canada

David Brown