Christmas commercials have become a staple of the holiday season for many retail giants, from Disney to British department store John Lewis, with morals and miniature stories often contained within them.
But one little bar in Northern Ireland, Charlie’s Bar, has eclipsed them all this year, producing a heart-warming commercial that has gone viral, as social media users praised its “beautiful message” and “poignant” storyline.
The video, posted Friday on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, depicts an old man laying flowers at his wife’s grave before walking down the streets of Enniskillen, attempting to greet strangers – who take no notice of him.
He enters a bar, where he sits alone until he is approached by a friendly little dog, shortly followed by the dog’s young owners, and they all enjoy a festive drink together.
The video, which is just over two minutes long, finishes with a quote often attributed to the poet W.B. Yeats: “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t yet met.”
“There’s often a lot of loneliness at Christmas time…and so the story was about kindness,” Aoife Teague, a content creator who filmed and edited the commercial, told CNN.
“It was about spreading love and being aware that there are people out there who are on their own at Christmas time that don’t find it a magical time of the year and find it quite lonely … It’s about being a friend and the dog sort of represents a person making the first move to go over to speak to somebody and the impact that can make to their day.”
Charlie’s Bar has served the residents of Enniskillen, a small town in Northern Ireland about 80 miles southwest of the capital, Belfast, since 1944 and has stayed in the same family for that time.
Its manager, Una Burns, worked closely with Teague to produce the commercial. Teague said Burns and a friend came up with the storyline after encountering several customers who were lonely and came to the bar in search of company.
Then, after the three of them storyboarded the commercial “basically on a piece of paper, it wasn’t … the professional way,” Teague filmed it over the course of three hours.
The four stars of the commercial are all local residents, Teague said, explaining that “the couple were Una’s friends who just happened to have a lovely dog,” Missy, and Martin McManus, who plays the old man, performs in local community theater.
As of Thursday, the video had accumulated 1.2 million views on TikTok alone since it was posted on Friday evening, as well as more than 147,000 likes on Facebook, a response that Teague says still “hasn’t really sunk in.”
And its impact stretched beyond social media, she added, with people from all around the world, including Canada, the United States and Germany, sending messages “saying either they relate to the video or the video means an awful lot to them.”
“There’s also been … even strangers who have rung up the bar and donated money towards someone who might be coming into the bar this Christmas on their own to just buy them a drink or offer them a chat,” she said.
“I think this video has really impacted people in ways that we’d hoped but in some ways that we never imagined, either.”