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Old Man Winter recently paid a visit to unsuspecting shoppers at Ocean State Job Lot’s Foxboro, Mass., store, bringing with him snow, Santa, an elf and a crazy in-store “quest” challenge that was caught on hidden cameras and shared in a hilarious video.
The video prank revolved around an “Adventure Quest” sign placed at one of the checkout counters. Customers who inquired about the sign were given the opportunity to complete a Quest to win a “crazy deal" portable fireplace heater grand prize. When they accepted, Old Man Winter appeared and explained that the goal of the Quest is to save a captured Santa by defeating the evil "Mark Up King," thereby releasing Santa and ending high prices.
One by one, curious customers were led by Santa’s elf to a hidden area of the store to complete physical challenges, such as high-stepping through an obstacle course of wreaths, low-crawling on the floor under strings of holiday lights, and catapulting snowballs to hit bull’s-eye targets on snowmen cut-outs. All of this – plus additional scenes with the captive Santa and other characters – was recorded on camera and edited into a Holiday Adventure Quest video compilation that resembles an entertaining mini-movie, complete with an interesting plot, plenty of drama and characters, and a happy ending.
The Quest was dreamed up by Job Lot’s video creative team, led by Hollywood filmmaker/director Gabriel Sunday, who produced a series of short videos featuring Job Lot merchandise this past summer. Released in November, the holiday-themed video has received more than 200,000 views on YouTube. Explains Sunday: “It’s rare for a retailer to transform one of its stores during business hours into a theatrical scene, and even more unusual to involve actual customers and store associates. We chose to surprise Job Lot shoppers for the authenticity of their reactions on camera, and the staff had great fun participating in the performance.”
Adds Ocean State Job Lot exec Paul Conforti: “Similar to our winter television ad spots, the Quest video shares the unconventional, humorous side of Job Lot with our customers. We’ve never done anything like this before,” Conforti continues. “It was a fun, creative way for us to showcase the variety of our merchandise, while at the same time tying together two important aspects of our shopping experience – our ability to offer unique crazy deals and the excitement of you-never-know-what-you’ll-find adventure shopping.”
Members of improvisational comedy troupes from Boston and Providence portrayed the characters in the storyline, and Old Man Winter is a professional actor from New York City. The Foxboro Job Lot store remained open for business, as many of the Quest scenes were shot in parts of the store that weren’t in use at the time. All sets and props were made from items sold at Job Lot, including tree decorations, fans for the snow scenes, and cookies for Santa, to name a few.
Brown University Bear Bones Trombone Choir is also featured in the video.
Founded in 1977, Ocean State Job Lot is a growing, privately held retail chain with 115 stores in New England, New York and New Jersey, approximately 4,000 employees, and annual sales exceeding $550 million.