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Swiss Chalet Rudolph, You Creep Me Out

I don’t write this post as a marketer (or UnMarketer).

I don’t own an ad agency and have no idea about the process, the struggle and constraints there are in putting together a national ad campaign.

But I am a customer and have been dining at Swiss Chalet for 30ish years. (For those that don’t know Swiss Chalet it’s a Canadian chain of yummy chicken places, where you typically take old folks for their birthday, holidays etc.. and by old folks, I now include me.)

I recently saw the “Rudolph Swiss Chalet” commercial that turned me off so much from the place that I’ve dined at countless times it actually turns me off the brand entirely (even though I’m hooked on their quarter-chicken dinner, fries and chalet sauce)

Just watch the commercial:

I don’t really know what to say.

Ok, that’s a lie, here’s what I have to say:

  1. This is the most awkward exchange between two actors I have ever witnessed in a commercial of this exposure (meaning done by a pro ad firm and client)
  2. The daughter doesn’t remember their “special place”? Sweet, sweet lord of castle greyskull. Was it repressed?
  3. This is a Canadian commercial, and the dad sounds like he’s from Jersey
  4. Where the hell has he been? The vibe of the commercial is daddy has been away for a very long time. It brings me thoughts of a 10-15 year stretch, I assume in Rikers, or that area (again, the accent) Thanks to commenter Jay below who informed me that you would never do a 10-15 at Rikers. I’m not asking Jay how he knows.
  5. I don’t even have the words to describe the looks on both of their faces during the table exchange. It almost makes me feel Chris Hansen is going to bust in at any moment with the line “Why don’t you have a seat over there?”

I understand what they are “trying” to get across. I know what it’s like to not be with your kid, being in that position both as a father and as a son, so I’m pretty much the market they are trying to emotional touch with it. And it freaks the hell out of me. Swiss Chalet didn’t need to stoop to this level to get the hype for their festive meal, usually the Toblerone or Lindor chocolates is enough to get me to come in, and you get to dip your fingers in lemon water at the end! It sells itself!

Who do I blame for this? The ad agency? Swiss Chalet? The actors union? The writers? All of the above? Can’t we make a better one?

Help me my fine readers. Tell me I’m not the only one who can see this.

And if you’re going to say “Well it has gotten you to talk about it!! It worked! ALL PUBLICITY IS GOOD PUBLICITY!” then you may as well sit back down at the back of the short bus. In this day and age, bad PR cannot be spun and capped like the old days, and everyone’s voice gets heard.

(Special thanks to SmartCanucks who had the commercial in their post that allowed me to find it when searching 3 seconds after seeing it air on tv)