In a reprise of characters from Virgin's 2004 commercials, a mock telethon with a 1970's style commentator says, "Introducing the Virgin Mobile Christmahanukwanzakah help line. Real help finding the perfect phone, no matter who you are."
The camera cuts to a primitive-looking character whose place card reads "Caveman."
The commentator takes the floor: "Wanna ask a Jew about the new Slider Sonic?"
The ultra-Orthodox Jewish characters exclaim, "MP3's it can play!" The two of them proceed to bob their heads to a beat.
The commentator adds: "Mmm... Christmahanukwanzakah-licious!"
The camera pans across the operators, including the "Gay Elf," and a phone number reads across the screen: "1-888-ELF-7667."
The camera zooms in on the hyper-feminized gay elf. As he fidgets with the phone line wrapped around his angular wrist, he says in a high-pitched voice, "If you're curious, call me!"
An old man with a place card reading "Buddhist Cowboy" chimes in: "My friend here's dead asleep."
The next minority is represented by "Kwanzaa Guy," who manages to sound sufficiently foreign when merely saying, "Hello? Goodbye..."
Following is the Hindu man in Santa garb with Muslim head wear. He speaks in broken English, "I will spank your bottom."
The commentator continues, "Let's go to the ham!" Once the camera cuts to a large ham with a number tally embedded, the commentator reacts to the number total, "Holy crap!"
The whole crew jumps in excitement: "Success!"
Confetti begins to fall and all of the operators dance around in a manner befitting their respective cultural stereotypes.
The Hindu man narrates as the phone itself graces the screen: "Sexy Slider Sonic makes the best Christmahanukwanzakah ever!"
The ad earns a Stereotypes rating because the only humor is the elf's classically feminine stereotype, even while some may applaud the inclusion of a specifically labelled "gay elf." The commercial is almost entirely dedicated to stereotypes and mocking multiculturalism. Some may argue that all groups are equally offended, but the spot merely perpetuates them without offering many new twists.
It turns out that the gay elf was the most popular character people chose to speak to when calling in. According to Virgin Mobile, of nearly 1 million calls between mid-November 2005 and early January 2006, 50% of all callers selected the elf, ahead of the Jew/Paula Abdul by double, and even more than the Hindu Santa, and Kwanzaa Guy, in that order.
Intriguingly, when selecting the elf, callers were also asked, "If you ride on my bus, press one," and "If you're a straight shooter, press two." Then callers could leave a message if they wanted, and 30,000 did.
"We got daily totals for the characters," explains Bob Stohrer, vice president of brand and communications for Virgin Mobile. "It's amazing how consistent the calling patterns were" and how much people liked the gay elf. "Almost all of them were really, really positive."