Shauna Selig was ten when Sobeys first ran its Star of Christmas commercial in 1987.
The heart-warming ad, which featured a Halifax children’s choir singing Nova Scotia musician Bob Quinn’s Star of Christmas jingle and heart-warming Holidays family scenes, was an annual Christmastime classic across Eastern Canada until 2004, when Sobeys stopped running it.
“Everybody in Atlantic Canada sang that song,” recalled Selig, today Sobeys’ communications manager for Atlantic Canada. “For many people on the East Coast, including me and my family, the Christmas season started when they heard that song.”
That’s why Selig both understands and shares in the excitement sweeping Atlantic Canada over this week’s launch of a remake of the famous ad.
Filmed on Nov. 3 at the Sobeys store on Elmwood Drive in Moncton N.B., the minute-long ad features some 350 Sobeys employees and their family members, a few now-adult members of the children’s choir in the original version, and the Mount Allison choral society singing what Sobeys has dubbed Star of Christmas 2.0.
The song voices over a day-long arrival, set-up and sale of everything from Christmas trees, pomegranates and poinsettias (including one to Selig, who appears as a shopper in the ad) by smiling employees both outside and inside the Elmwood Drive store.
The feel-good ad ends at night with candle-clinging kids and the choir singing Star of Christmas in front of the fully decorated store.
The song and ad end with the words Come home this season written on the screen, as the participants cheer in the background.
Among them are Dave Sobey, a category manager and fifth-generation member of the privately-held grocery chain’s family. He can be seen in the ad holding his daughter Peyton up to a Christmas tree.
The spot began airing regionally on TV and radio on Monday.
People can also download the song, sheet music, a karaoke version and ring tone from a special website, www.sobeys.com/starofchristmas.
For every download, Sobeys will donate $1 to local food banks, up to a maximum of $20,000.
The ad hit the East Coast on Friday, when a Halifax media outlet posted it on social media.
According to Selig, it has already been viewed nearly 170,000 times.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Selig told Canadian Grocer.
She said her younger sister Michaela, who now lives in Winnipeg, told her she “teared up” when she watched the new ad.
“People here are so connected to it,” said Selig. “It’s the tune, which is really catchy, but also the nostalgic sentiments and emotions it evokes.”
She added that the decision to remake the ad was made to coincide with Sobeys’ 110th anniversary in 2017.
“It’s all about reconnecting people with their roots,” said Selig. “And in Atlantic Canada, roots run deep.”