Two amazing little dogs. One heartwarming commercial about Christmas.
When you catch Meijer’s new holiday commercial, be ready to have your heart melted by the real-life-ish story of Lily, a cute little dog who goes on a Christmas adventure before being rescued by Santa.
In typical Hollywood fashion, Lily doesn’t play herself. She is played by Noel, whose own story is a sort of Christmas miracle, as well.
She got her name because she was rescued last holiday season, after nearly getting hit by a car. And now, she has her first starring role in a Christmas commercial. The driver, who avoided her after she darted out into the street, picked her up with plans to drop her off at a shelter.
A face for acting
Instead, he was directed to Steve Solomon, who was waiting outside the Los Angeles shelter that was being used for a film shoot that day. Solomon owns Good Dog Animals, an animal actor training business, with his wife, Guin.
“As as soon as he pulled her out of that car and I saw her little face, I thought, ‘Oh my God, you are the cutest little dog,’” Solomon said. “She was so adorable, with little floppy ears and an expressive little face.”
When the couple couldn’t find the owners of the Border Terrier mix, they decided to see if she could be trained for TV and film work. She was a natural.
Solomon’s 9-year-old company provides dogs, cats and farm animals for movies and TV shows such as “Modern Family,” “This is Us,” and “Splitting Up Together.”
Based on a true story
The commercial was inspired by a real-life experience of John Condon’s Yorkie, Lily. Condon is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of The Distillery Project in Chicago, the firm that makes Meijer’s commercials.
Lily went missing in the middle of a big snowstorm in Chicago last winter. Fortunately, a neighbor spotted her and brought her inside. Eventually, she was reunited with the Condons.
“It was a crazy couple of days, but ultimately a real feel-good story,” Condon recalled. “We got talking about her adventure and just kind of embellished on how she was actually brought back, and that's really where the story came from.”
In the commercial, Lily runs outside to take in the wonder and joy of the Christmas season. Caught up in the fun of Christmas Eve, she gets lost and is brought back home by the magic of the Christmas spirit.
Santa to the rescue
Lily looks up and sees a red streak of light going across the sky. She chases Santa’s sleigh back home. In the blink of an eye, between the time her parents get up to open the door for her and she runs inside, Santa has made his visit, leaving presents underneath the lighted tree.
“Believe. We have everything else you need.” is Meijer’s simple message at the end of the commercial.
“Meijer really does have everything that people are looking for at Christmas, whether it's the presents under the tree or the dinner on the table,” Condon said.
His firm has worked with Meijer for more than five years, creating a holiday commercial every other year. The last one was “Do you see what I see?” about children who suspect the white-bearded man they see out and about is really Santa Claus.
This is the first time Meijer is featuring an animal in its holiday spot. Condon says Noel was a joy to work with during the two July nights the commercial was filmed in a Los Angeles backlot.
Noel now lives with other acting animals on the Solomons’ 20-acre farm near the Santa Clarita mountains. Her best friend is Sally Sue, a mini-pig who has a role on the Nickelodeon show “Cousins for Life.” Solomon likes to tell the story about how Noel accompanies the acting pig so often to the set that some on the crew thought Noel was an emotional support animal.
The duo does everything together. They even sleep together. As they nestle to sleep each night, one wonders if visions of sugar plums dance in their heads.
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