Eat'n Park's 'Christmas card' of the little star that could celebrates 30th year
By Matthew Santoni
Published: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Not many ad campaigns have gone unchanged for 30 years, but since 1982, Eat'n Park has aired the same “Christmas Star” commercial every year.
As much of a holiday staple as the Horne's tree, the Macy's Parade or “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the animated commercial — featuring a tiny star struggling to reach its place at the top of the tree until the tree bends to lift it up — has aired annually since 1982.
Jeff Broadhurst, CEO of Homestead-based Eat'n Park Hospitality and son of former CEO Jim Broadhurst, said his father intended the spot to be a “thank you” and a gift for the community.
“The reason it was even requested was that it was a landmark year for Eat'n Park, and Jim Broadhurst was so excited about the Pittsburgh region, so touched that people were supporting his restaurant, that he said ‘I have a little money, I want to make a video holiday card for the community,'” said Craig Otto, who was a young art director at Ketchum Advertising, who helped create the ad along with copywriter Cathy Bowen.
“It's unusual when you have a client in this business say they want something to last 25 years,” said Otto, now a partner and creative director at Downtown-based Dymon+Company.
Jeff Broadhurst and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl commemorated the ad's 30th anniversary on Friday at Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville with cookies and activities for kids, and marked another company tradition: The 34th annual Caring for Kids campaign, in which Eat'n Park employees raise money and volunteer time for the hospital.
The campaign raised $345,000 for Children's Hospital last year, and has raised a total of $8 million for Children's since it began, Broadhurst said. More specific events for the campaign and the Christmas Star anniversary will be announced starting Monday, he said.
Audrey Guskey, a professor of marketing at Duquesne University, said it's unusual for a commercial message to have such staying power. While some companies like Alka-Seltzer are trying to stir nostalgia or revive characters from old ads, Guskey couldn't think of any that had continuously run the same commercials every year.
“In today's marketing world, nothing sticks; everything changes,” she said. “Companies think everything should be fresh.”
It helps that the Pittsburgh market tends to be older, people tend not to move in and out, and multiple generations can become familiar with the same ad.
“Pittsburghers tend to like our traditions and nostalgia,” said Guskey, who said she was the first of three generations in her family to associate the Christmas Star commercial with the start of the holiday season.
“It's not promotional, it's more about promoting the human spirit, promoting joy, than it is about selling Smiley cookies,” Otto said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sbarro again files for bankruptcy reorganization
- 1,500 Bangladesh factories set to be inspected by August
- Stocks dip on gloomy data from Asia
- EBay shareholders urged to reject Icahn picks
- Weather worsens McDonald’s sales struggles
- ‘Fresher, different, lot more fun’ guide changes at Kings Family Restaurants
- Marcellus shale driller Noble Energy Inc. sinks roots into Pittsburgh
- Minorities crucial to filling Marcellus shale gas drilling jobs
- Diaper makers do due diligence
- Samsung introduces free streaming radio service
- JPMorgan whistle-blower gets $64M for mortgage fraud tips