Santa’s a real goodfella in new shop local campaign

You can probably count on a single dismembered horse head the number of holiday ads that have taken their inspiration from a mob movie.

But Impossible Studios’ executive producer Marco D’Angelo was watching Martin Scorsese’s 1990 classic Goodfellas recently (his wife, by the way, just wanted to watch a nice feel-good Christmas flick) when the idea for a video that perfectly summarizes 2020 and the anxiety felt by small business owners arrived almost fully formed.

The inspiration came from the ultra-stylish scene in the movie in which the gangsters are forced to retrieve a body they buried six months earlier because the site is going to be used for a condominium development. “I was watching this movie with my wife… and I sent a screen shot to my friend who’s a DP and said ‘This is so awesome and simple. Wouldn’t it be awesome to do something like this?’

“I quickly drafted a script and sent it to Rob Galletta [CEO at Impossible Studios’ sister agency Blackjet] and he said ‘Dude, go with this.'”

The resulting ad, “Bad Santa,” shows a not-so-jolly St. Nick, backlit by an eerie red glow, digging a hole and throwing in gifts from a semi-fictitious company called Amazone before lighting them on fire and driving away. As the flames lick at the packages, a super reading “This holiday season shop locally. Or end up on Santa’s naughty list” appears, followed by the logo of one of Toronto’s BIAs.

The ad went from conception to completion in just a week, concluding with a night shoot at a gravel pit in Tottenham, Ont. owned by North Rock Group. “It was about minus six and we wrapped at about 2:30 in the morning,” said D’Angelo. “I was so cold that night that I couldn’t get to sleep.”

The video was originally intended to be self-promotional, but took on a new dimension when D’Angelo shared the concept with Mary Fragedakis, executive director of the GreekTown BIA (for which Impossible Studios produced a campaign earlier this year).

She expressed an interest in adding a Greektown BIA tag at the end, and the discussion quickly grew to include the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), the group overseeing the city’s 84 BIAs. To date, nine BIAs throughout the city are using the video to inspire customers to shop local. One version of the ad is also directing to a new shop local initiative that popped up recently called, which contains listings for local businesses in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Halifax.

The “Bad Santa” initiative was developed in association with Alter Ego, Married to Giants, Sim, Audioprocess and Habibi, and is part of Impossible Studios’ CreativityForGood initiative unveiled during the pandemic.

D’Angelo said he’s not sure if Impossible Studios could be served with a takedown order for appropriating the logo of a powerful company controlled by the richest man in the world. “Who cares,” he said with a laugh. “If anything, it draws some awareness.”

You’re a funny guy, Marco.

Chris Powell