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Thanksgiving 2023: Gobble up the most decadent work from brands

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By Audrey Kemp | LA reporter

November 22, 2023 | 6 min read

Feast your eyes on an array of seasonal ads, from KFC, Red Lobster, Sony and more.

kfc thanksgiving billboard

KFC's new billboard displays a turkey dinner gone wrong / Credit: KFC

As we gather around the table with our loved ones to give thanks, let’s also express our gratitude for brands that cook up brilliant Thanksgiving work.

This Turkey Day, there’s a KFC spot that pokes lighthearted fun at home-cooked fails and a spine-tingling Thanksgiving survival game from Sony, among others.

So, loosen that belt a notch and savor the best moments of the season with The Drum, below.

Red Lobster: ‘We Got It’ by Barkley

Red Lobster aims to push past the passé holiday fare of hams, tired turkeys and over-stuffed stuffing for something more unexpected: the Lobster and Shrimp Celebration.

To do this, the casual dining chain enlisted the help of 12-time-Grammy-winning gospel pastor, Shirley Caesar, to reimagine the internet hit, “Hold My Mule,” for a TV commercial. Instead of calling out “greens, beans, potatoes, tomatoes,” she passionately calls out the delicious details in the new Red Lobster holiday menu.

The ad is the work of Red Lobster’s agency of record, Barkley.

Sony Pictures & Spyglass: ‘Survive Thanksgiving’ by MeetKai

Launching in Halloween’s harrowing wake, Sony Pictures and Spyglass Media Group, in collaboration with LA-based metaverse company MeetKai, have created a first-of-its-kind virtual gaming experience for the new horror film, ‘Thanksgiving,’ directed by Eli Roth and starring Patrick Dempsey, Rick Hoffman and Addison Rae.

Aptly titled ‘Survive Thanksgiving,’ the game marks the first-ever metaverse activation to accompany a theatrical film release, which fell on Nov. 17. The game, which offers six locations featured in the film, can be played through a VR headset, any web browser or on a mobile device or desktop.

KFC Canada: ‘Thankfully, There’s KFC Delivery’ by Courage Inc.

For those of us who are not skilled in the kitchen, the joyful Thanksgiving holiday is often overshadowed by the pressure to cook for guests. And, indeed the stakes are high; one wrong move can turn a holiday turkey into an inedible fireball. New work from KFC Canada turns Thanksgiving feast fails into a reason to deliver fast food instead.

The campaign, titled ‘Thankfully, There’s KFC Delivery’ comes from KFC Canada’s agency of record Courage and showcases a series of culinary catastrophes, ranging from birds burnt in the oven to flaming backyard chaos caused by a misused deep fryer. Under each of these images is a reminder that KFC is ready to deliver in a pinch.

Aviation American Gin: ‘Just Friendsgiving’ by Maximum Effort

In a nostalgic nod to the beloved 2005 Christmas rom-com Just Friends, Ryan Reynolds and Amy Smart reunite for a new seasonal ad for Aviation American Gin, aptly named ’Just Friendsgiving.’ With Thanksgiving Week upon US consumers, friends everywhere are reuniting for ’friendsgiving’. For longtime friends Reynolds and Smart, the reunion is the first in 18 years – timed to the anniversary of Just Friends, a holiday romcom that follows friends from New Jersey who navigate their changing relationship over time.

In the ad, Smart catches on quickly to the true reason behind the reunion. After a few takes, she jokingly calls Reynolds out for using her for an ad for his spirit company; he hits back that “this is a self-funded sequel predicated on a loose interpretation of IP laws so… yes, it is an ad for my Aviation American Gin.” The spot was developed by Reynolds’ creative agency, Maximum Effort.

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