Then the woman is stopped by an obnoxious guy who thinks he recognizes her and he says, "Ahhh, don't tell me, I never forget a face..."

The narrator continues, "It's amazing the changes you can make for a few thousand dollars."

Then a look of horror crosses the guy's face as he realizes and says, "Bob? Bob Johnson?" With a wicked smile, the woman says, "Hi Tom!"

Holiday Inn, which has also spent a lot on renovations, closes with the narrator saying, "Imagine what happens when we spend a billion. Holiday Inn, on the way."

This spot -- perhaps the first to deal with sex-changing transsexualism -- was very popular in the ad industry and received positive reviews. Nonetheless, unhappy Holiday Inn's franchisees and a call-in campaign from the Southern Baptists convinced the hotelier to yank the spot after its $1 million debut on the Super Bowl -- thus few people ever saw it.
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Company: Bass Hotels & Resorts
    View Company Scorecard / Contact Company
Brand: Holiday Inn
Ad Title: High School Reunion
Business Category: Hotels/Resorts
Media Outlets: Television
Country: United States
Region: North America
Agency: Fallon Worldwide
Year: 1997
Target: Mainstream
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Theme(s)

Trans Beauty

Homophobia/Transphobia

Theme Breakdown

AdRespect Score: 
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A leggy woman arrives at her high school class reunion and everyone turns to look as she slinks down the stairs and across the room. The narrator ticks off the money she spent on plastic surgery: "New nose $6,000; lips $3,000, new chest $8,000."

Then the woman is stopped by an obnoxious guy who thinks he recognizes her and he says, "Ahhh, don't tell me, I never forget a face..."

The narrator continues, "It's amazing the changes you can make for a few thousand dollars."

Then a look of horror crosses the guy's face as he realizes and says, "Bob? Bob Johnson?" With a wicked smile, the woman says, "Hi Tom!"

Holiday Inn, which has also spent a lot on renovations, closes with the narrator saying, "Imagine what happens when we spend a billion. Holiday Inn, on the way."

This spot -- perhaps the first to deal with sex-changing transsexualism -- was very popular in the ad industry and received positive reviews. Nonetheless, unhappy Holiday Inn's franchisees and a call-in campaign from the Southern Baptists convinced the hotelier to yank the spot after its $1 million debut on the Super Bowl -- thus few people ever saw it.

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Gary Bieksha , Clark, NJ
I usually don't watch Super Bowl and just stumbled upon this commercial by accident while channel surfing. I thought this was priceless. Being an obnoxious guy, Tom's reaction was credible for the classic homophobic reaction. The alternate reactions proposed in other comments would have been too phony to be credible as they would have been totally inappropriate for this guy's character.
Jami Ward , Houston
I normally don't watch football at all, but I serendipitously saw this one and was blown away. As a transsexual woman, I loved it, but so did my brother. I also protested to Holiday Inn when they caved in to pressure, but never heard back from them. I've not stayed at a Holiday Inn since.

Melissa , Springfield, Mo.
This commercial would have been so cute if only Tom would have said "Bob Johnson! Good to see you" rather than a horrified "Bob? Bob Johnson?!" It just took that one comment for it to seem like this beautiful woman was some horrid creature to be disgusted by and feared. Otherwise, it would be a cute commercial! I would have really liked it sooo much if only he would have been happy to see his old classmate, and taken the sex change in a better manner.

Gabriel , unknown
Negative? Not so! I love this commercial. The negative label belongs on the company, not the advertisment itself.

Stuart Carroll , Provincetown, Mass.
I can see why hets would be afraid of this commercial - it perfectly captures the "f*ck you, I'm going to be myself no matter what you think" attitude that is so good at destroying their closest held stereotypes. It's a clear portrayal of a powerful person, secure in her self and her place in the universe. More of us should go back to our high school reunions and be honest about who we are.

Laura , Anchorage
I thought the ad was great, until the pain-in-the-butt classmate said "Bob?" Ect. The same point could have been made for the ad's sake (remodeling) by the guy saying, "Bob? Bob Johnson? My gawd! You look...fantastic!" amd smile like he meant it. We don't have to treat our transgendered citizens like animals or performers in a freak show to have a great sales ad with impact. SHAME on Holiday Inns.... one for the commercial, and then again for caving in to the blue-noses.

Courtney , Boston
Tom's disgust is a little unsettling, but look at how once-Bob is eating it up! She's totally reveling in the fact that she has shocked the living daylights out of a former classmate. Now maybe THAT'S the problem -- that it's totally inaccurate to imagine a transgendered person feeling delight in the shock that their "crossing over" produces, rather than just warm acceptance -- but it seems to me like Tom is totally psyched to be 1.) a girl and 2.) unsettling her former classmates!

Simon , Chicago
I've noticed something positive in this ad. This transexual is damn sexy, she's a billion times more pretty than the natural-born women in the ad. So perhaps it's not so negative and inspite of the shock of the guy, she does feel happy with herself.

Richard Philips , Hollywood, CA
This ad was...er, interesting! Not good. Not bad. Just interesting.

K.R. Bury , Brantford, Ontario
She enters the hall with the confidence and the apparrent enjoyment of knowing the eyes of the men in the room are on her, something women enjoy. She walks up to her old friend Tom, dazzles him, and Tom is totally shocked to find out that this woman whose appearance almost paralyses him is one of the guys he used to go to school with. I just love the way she strides through the room in her high heels almost as though her feet weren't even touching the ground and showing off her cleavage but acting as if it wasn't even there. As a man, I can't even imagine how much fun that might be.

Meredith Toenjes , Kansas City, KS
I happened to be watching the Super Bowl that year in a lesbian bar. The game was one-sided, so we voted on the ads. This was the favorite hands down. I was very sorry it didn't air again. Frankly, I didn't retain the focus of the ad an hour later other than to remember it was a hotel.

David , Richmond, VA
Classic! You have to wonder if MasterCard got its "priceless" ad campaign idea from this.

Jacob , Dallas, TX
Neutral... the woman was gorgeous and oozed confidence, but the commercial could have gone without the painful reminder of the unacceptance transsexuals sometimes have to face. The commercial would have been much better if she had a proud boyfriend beside her. Why on earth is that chick single anyway?

James A. Clark Jr. , Greenville, MI
It should have been a Mastercard commercial!!!

Johanna Shipley , Malden, MA
I am a MTF transsexual. I was watching the Super Bowl with my then 15 year old son, and almost fell off the couch when I saw this ad. I couldn't believe my eyes and ears. Like most of us T's, we would kill to be that drop dead gorgeous. I was seriously dismayed, as were a lot of my T girlfriends when we heard that the Christian Hate Groups had pressured Holiday Inn into dropping the campaign.
I'd like to know, (as would a straight male friend) whether the woman in the ad was a genetic female, or a MTF transsexual.
Either way, it was a terrific ad, and deserves more exposure.

Andrea James , Los Angeles, CA
I thought this was clever and fun, and consider it a textbook case of a positive portrayal. That’s probably why it only ran once.

Jessica Shockey , Baton Rouge, LA
Despite Tom's negative reaction to Bob's identity, I think the commercial is positive overall. It seems to me to imply that the "renovations" are a vast improvement, and money well spent.

Bob Johnson , San Fransisco, CA
I would have liked if Tom would've slapped "Bob" in the butt.

Calder Falk , Toronto
It would have been nice if the guy reacted more positivity, but the trans woman was very strong and appeared quite happy with herself. She was not made to be the freak. To me, the man came off as conservative and wimpy.

Michelle Wurth , Oklahoma City, OK
This is a neat commercialand and I think his horrified expression is only natural. However, she looks so good that I doubt he would have ever recognized her. It is too bad Holiday Inn caved in to the right wing pressure.

John Kolinsky , Bay Point, CA
It's a good commercial. Tom's reaction doesn't have a negative effect on the commercial. In reality everyone has prejudices and the ones regarding sexuality are at least among the worst. Tom's disgust was just a reflection of how the majority feels about transsexuals. I don't agree with those saying that this commercial could only be good or would be better if Tom was different. It shows how a woman can be beautiful, sexy, and feminine without having been born with some people's definition of a female body. People more commonly regard transsexuals negatively, and this shows you a woman triumphing over the other prejudiced people.

Rob , Gibsonton, FL
I am disappointed to see "pride" to indifference promoted rather than renewing a classic reliable and enduring tradition (which built the Inn). I will never spend another dollar on such a confused company.

Julie Girard , Monroe, MI
I loved this ad. It is the most memorable ad I have ever seen. Here it is 2006 and I remembered it down to her/his name (Bob Johnson). Not bad for a one time show. I'm glad to have found it again. It's still a good one.

Lisa Crane , Chalfont, PA
I am upset if this is looked at as a great ad. I feel it is sad and upsetting that the hotel could not find a more mainstream way of expressing its renovations. I, as most of America, believe in good wholesome commercials and products. I will never support such companies which show such disrespect to human difficulties. A sex change is not funny and the person who is suffering from this ad is anyone who misunderstands the conditions which caused such heartache. You should be ashamed of this ad and yourselves.

Kara , Albany, NY
As a transsexual woman, I didn't find this commercial offensive at all, I loved it. My high school reunion is coming up in a couple years and I can't wait to do the same thing Bob did.

Gwen , Deer Park, WA
Sorry. I had to give it the "thumbs down" vote. The commercial was excellently produced, wonderful content... and completely marred by the man's reaction. Way to keep the stigma going guys. =(

Chris , San Francisco, CA
I remember this ad when it came out. I also remember the conservative Christian campaign to have it pulled and how Holiday Inn caved in very quickly to the pressure. I thought the ad was very witty and slightly provocative. It may be offensive to narrow-minded folks who are afraid of transsexuals, but I think it shows a positive portrayal of a confident transsexual. As for the shocked reaction of the old classmate, showing it was simply being honest. Most people would need a little time to adjust to suddenly being confronted with an acquaintance's gender transitioning. I don't think the woman's former classmate was horrified at her new appearance, just simply shocked and this is a normal reaction. As GLBT individuals, we should be willing to give others a little slack instead of always leaping to our soapboxes -- sometimes people just need a little time to come around.

Roberta , Bremerton, WA
So close but no cigar...if only Bob had been surprised in a "Wow. You look great" kinda way, and then maybe shyly asked her for a date!, and then finished on a scene of them talking while the voice-over finishes about the renovations to the hotel. It would have been cute and edgy.Boos to them for caving.

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