Ericka Rieck Contextual Analysis LA 101H
A popular Folgers coffee commercial in 1980, “Peter Comes Home For Christmas” was taken and remade for modern day viewers. The newer take on the old theme consists of a young man coming home just in time for the holidays. Once he arrives at the house he finds his younger sister already awake and Folgers coffee brewing in the pot. The smell of the coffee being poured then leads the parents from their bed to the kitchen where the reunion commences and the joy of the holidays and coming together can be seen. The brother in the newer commercial was returning home from a volunteer stint in West Africa. Having been a long way away all he wants is something familiar and comforting. Folgers uses this new spin on an old favorite to capture the essence of coming home, and capitalizes on the time, using kairos, by airing this commercial around the holidays and also during a time when many people in the United States had family members overseas fighting for their country. During its run in 1980, and for multiple years after that, the commercial “Peter Comes Home For Christmas”, captured the hearts of viewers. In this commercial, like its modern day counterpart, an older brother is returning home, although his previous address is not mentioned, and his younger sister is awake to greet him. Peter and his much younger sister, probably around 6 or so years of age, then purposefully proceed to the kitchen to make a pot of Folgers coffee in order to rouse the rest of the family from their slumber. The aroma works and leads the parents and siblings down the stairs to their long lost son and brother. The two commercials are very much alike and Folgers used the immense success of the 1980s version to do a spin off in hopes
of recreating that feeling of understanding and empathy once again. Folgers revamped their classic commercial, but kept the overall theme the same in order to remind viewers that the holidays are a time for family and that Folgers can be what brings family members home during that precious time. This newer commercial aired toward the beginning of winter in 2009. Thanksgiving is fast approaching and Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. lurk around the corner. During this holiday season people generally want to be with the ones that they care about whether it is family or friends, or friends that are considered family. Holidays bring together those who do not normally see each other throughout the year and mark the return of relatives and immediate family members and friends who have been missed during the other three seasons. Folgers sets their commercial so that the brother/son arrives just in time for Christmas. The family is excited and awaiting his return, unlike in the original where Peter’s homecoming seems to be a bit more of a surprise. Folgers aired this commercial at the beginning of winter because it is the opportune time to start viewers thinking about the holidays, and how they want to spend them. This commercial was created to remind people of the warm and cozy feeling that one gets when he or she is gathered around the tree, or around the kitchen table and has the people that he or she cares for the most right there. Using kairos, Folgers not only used the start of the holiday season to reach viewers, but also used the fact that many families had missing members who were serving overseas during this time of war for the United States. September 11, 2001 was the start of a war that took husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, etc. away from the rest of their family. In 2009 an order had been issued that called for roughly 30,000 more troops to be deployed to Iraq (CBSNews). With this new order and after 8 years of uncertainty about these family members compounding America’s worry
citizens were restless to see their loved ones and to have them return home safe and sound. Folgers used this knowledge for their commercial having this new version of “Peter” coming home from overseas. Now this character was not in the military, but the parallel of having a family member so far away still resonates with those families that are missing a vital piece of their immediate unit to war and at the same time reaches out to those who’s missing loved ones are simply a few states away, or even a few hours, whether it be away at college, or whatever the reason may be, giving the commercial a much broader audience than they would have had otherwise. Folgers acknowledged this restlessness is America, and this want for completeness in families, by showing how comforting and amazing is feels to have a missing loved one come home. Folgers used kairos to reach out to viewers when they were most vulnerable in order to connect to them and convey the message that family is important and coming together is easier than one thinks when they buy Folgers coffee. In conclusion, Folgers decided to recreate a classic commercial with the expectation that this new take on the commercial would be just as huge of a success as the original and that it would grab the hearts and attention of viewers. Folgers then took advantage of kairos when they aired the commercial at the beginning of the holiday season so as to appeal to the cozy familial atmosphere that surrounds that time of year. At the same time Folgers also took into account the unrest that many American families were feeling. Holidays are meant for family and joy and at this time many families were broken, or split by the absence of a member who was serving in the military and fighting for the safety of the ones they loved back home. This commercial showed viewers that they could find a bit of happiness and the comfort of home in a familiar container of Folgers coffee. Folgers struck when people would be most receptive to this plea to the emotions. This commercial was created to soothe Americans and show them that comfort is available in
any local grocery store. Folgers can be the thing that brings comfort and peace to families all over America; it can even be the thing that brings families together in the first place.
Works Cited: Associated Press. “30,000 Troops Headed For Iraq In 2009” CBSNews World. n.p., 11 Feb. 2009. Web. 28 Feb. 2012