bol Sinterklaas – De winkel van blije koppies

The Sinterklaas tradition, and its significance for retailers

From mid-November till the 5th of December it’s the Sinterklaas period in the Netherlands. Yes, Sinterklaas and not Santa Claus. Sinterklaas, the Dutch and Belgian festive tradition for children centred around giving presents, is actually what Santa Claus originated from. As Dutch migrants brought the celebration of Sinterklaas with them to the US in the 17th century, the Americans felt that they already had too many holidays in October and November. Which is why in the US, Santa Claus and the tradition of giving presents was found to be better suited for Christmas on the 25th of December.

Now that it’s clear that Sinterklaas is similar to Santa Claus in the US, or actually the other way around. The significance of this tradition for retailers in the Netherlands and Belgium becomes apparent. For leading Dutch retailer bol Sinterklaas is one of the biggest moments of the year with parents all around the country buying gifts for their children. And as the store for everyone, it is bol’s mission to show they really understand the Sinterklaas tradition and the parents’ experience of it.

Music dictating the pace

The ad is guided by a re-recording of the 80’s hit ‘Holding Out For A Hero’ by Bonnie Tyler. From the moment the hit song enters the soundscape of the TVC it takes control over the pace of the commercial. The re-recording is fast paced and takes centre stage during montage-like scenes of Eva preparing to be Sinterklaas, and slows down as well as taking the backseat during the moments we want our audience to focus on the comedic scenery of Eva practising riding a horse or the alarm going off when breaking in.

On a conceptual level ‘Holding Out For A Hero’ fits greatly with the storyline of the commercial too. Emphasising the lyrics ‘I need a hero!’ throughout the ad, highlights Eva’s quest to discover who she wants to become even more so.

Eva as Sinterklaas’ helper

Year after year bol puts all its energy towards helping parents to be the best Sinterklaas they can be in November and December. Bol’s HulpSint platform (translates to helping Sinterklaas) contains all sorts of tips and tricks for parents to make the Sinterklaas the most magical time of the year for their children. But bol also helps parents in a way that keeps Sinterklaas easy. The ‘Verlanglijstposter’ (wishlist) with scannable QR codes for every product their children wish for, they can immediately find each product in the webstore.

This year’s Sinterklaas TVC follows Eva as ‘HulpSint’ as she decides she wants to become Sinterklaas when face to face with the mythical Sinterklaas herself. We see Eva practicing for everything a great Sinterklaas needs to be good at: waving in a majestic fashion, riding a horse, and even.. having a beard. This all seems to be working out fine, she even put a Sinterklaas hat on her own wishlist, but when trying to plant a gift in the shoe of children across the street she triggers the alarm and is stopped by a policewoman. In that moment she realizes, that is what she wants to become! Luckily it is very easy for Eva to change her wish on the bol ‘Verlanglijstposter’ and just as easy for Sinterklaas (or her parents) to scan the new police hat she asks for.


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