Christmas commercials are like mince pies or roast parsnips. At this time of year, whether we like it or not, we are forced to consume an unreasonable quantity of them. Some are brussel-sprout-offensive. Others are pig-in-blanket-delicious. Here we offer you a festive tasting platter from this year’s offerings from Europe and, to infuse a little flavor, consider how they might be received by a local Chinese audience. Tuck in.
1. John Lewis | John Lewis百货公司
Wondering what to buy the kids this Christmas? Why not consider an unbelievably powerful telescope? Following up their multi-award winning Monty the Penguin campaign last year, John Lewis’ 2015 spot sees an inquisitive girl scouring the night sky through her telescope before zooming in on a lonely old man on the Moon. ‘Is it the girl’s dead granddad?’ our intern wondered, which would beg the question why he was on the moon and not in heaven or, indeed, hell. Perhaps John Lewis is suggesting the Moon is Purgatory. Even though he is, in fact, not dead, the ad does seem to confuse some. Given the Chinese aversion to mentions of death, the ad would be on dangerous ground here. Besides, the old man could hang out with Chang’e, the immortal Chinese goddess of the Moon to whom people offer cakes on Mid-Autumn day. That would be far preferable to peering through the windows of random Earth kids.
你还在想圣诞节要给孩子们买什么礼物吗？不妨买一个强大得难以置信的望远镜吧？John Lewis去年的广告《企鹅蒙蒂》摘得了多个奖项，继此之后，2015年的广告演绎了一个充满好奇的小女孩，透过望远镜窥探着夜空，镜头渐渐拉近，月亮上出现了一个孤独的老人。我们的实习生想‘这个老人是不是小女孩过世的爷爷呢？’我们不禁又想问，为什么老人会出现在月亮上，而不是天堂或地狱呢。或许John Lewis想暗示我们，月亮是一个炼狱。即便事实上老人并没有过世，广告貌似还是会让一些人产生困惑。中国人一般避免谈到死亡，从这个角度讲，这则广告处在了危险边缘。此外，老人也可能和嫦娥一起闲逛，中国人奉嫦娥为月神，长生不老，中秋还会吃月饼。任何一个站在地球上眺望窗外的小孩子都会更倾向于这种说法。
2. Edeka | 德国超市Edeka
German supermarket Edeka’s disturbingly non-ironic campaign riffs on a similar concept of remembering lonely old people. A lonesome but cunning old chap who sends word to his negligent grown-up kids that he’s died, thus luring them to his ‘funeral’, only to ‘Surprise!’ them when they arrive, by not being dead at all. A millisecond of shock is followed by smiles all round and a slap up feed with the cheeky old sod.
Conversely, the majority of Chinese New Year commercials tend to feature people struggling through great trials and tribulations to make it to their hometown. China traditionally places a greater focus on the family. It’s normal to live with parents until marriage, and have them live with you after that. Additionally, there is an enduring sense of community among the retired and elderly who spend their days gossiping, dancing and playing majiang. However, generational divides in China’s rapidly evolving society are widening. There are increasing cases of people not returning to see parents after having departed to make a living in the big cities. These themes may yet become more relevant for a Chinese audience.
3. Canal+ | Canal+电视台
The Canal+ spot has taken a more humorous approach, showing a giant, rampaging pig trashing a family home and inflicting misery on its hapless owners. We then cut to a year earlier where said pig is being gifted as a baby, along with the tagline ‘give a gift you won’t regret this year’. China is no stranger to bizarre pets, and pets treated bizarrely. It’s not unusual to see people walking tortoises on leads, or tiny dogs dressed more stylishly than their owners. Nor is China unaccustomed to enormous pigs as pets, although evidence suggests they enjoy a more harmonious relationship. Last year a farmer made headlines riding around Chongqing on his oversized pet pig, nicknamed ‘Hogzilla’.
4. Mulberry | Mulberry广告
Mulberry have followed up their ‘Win Christmas’ spot of last year with an amusing take on the nativity scene, with a handbag taking the place of the baby Jesus. How would this year’s ad resonate in China, the world’s fastest growing Christian country? Well, it’s doubtful the censors would allow an ad with a strong religious theme to be broadcast. Secondly, Christianity in China is a relatively new arrival and its popularity is viewed with increasing suspicion by the government. The delicacy of the situation doesn’t leave much room for parody.
继去年“Win Christmas”广告之后，今年Mulberry又推出了一部搞笑广告，模仿耶稣诞生的场景，以一只手袋代替了婴儿耶稣。今年的这则广告在中国 – 这个全球增长最快的圣诞市场，将反响如何呢？嗯，这样一个宗教主题浓厚的广告能否通过中国的审查，还难以预料。另外，基督教在中国相对还是一个新事物，政府对基督教的普及越来越持怀疑态度。这种情况极其微妙，所以中国广告没有太多模仿这则广告的的余地。
There is also the question of whether any agency would be bold enough to pitch a tongue-in-cheek campaign for a high-end luxury brand like Mulberry in the first place. Taking such a tone would be dangerous for a market relatively unfamiliar with the brand and for which tastes in advertising, particularly humour, are unpredictable.
5. BBC One | BBC One电视台
BBC One’s fully animated 3D Christmas ad sees a jolly little sprout looking for someone with whom to spend Christmas, only to be rejected at every turn because ‘nobody like a sprout’. Despite surveying a number of Chinese friends and colleagues, we couldn’t find a similarly essential but widely disliked food in the Chinese New Year dinner. Oddly, Chinese families seem to choose to serve food that they actually like for their festive occasions.
It would be great to see more ambitious animation in advertising in China. Coca Cola are having a go, bringing back their popular characters A Fu and A Jiao to further establish them as a Chinese New year tradition.
6. Anuncio Lotería de Navidad 2015 | 2015 西班牙圣诞节彩票官方广告
Another strong animation for this Spanish Lottery Christmas spot, in which a lonely security guard with a penchant for entertaining colleagues with amusingly positioned mannequins, wins the lottery. The security guard is a very visible figure in China, with one manning practically every building across the country. Sometimes they’re nice, sometimes grumpy, usually smoking. Mostly after dark they can be seen slumped comatose in their booth. We’re yet to see any playing with mannequins or setting up elaborate set-pieces for colleagues. Maybe between naps there is some seriously creative pranking going on.
7. PornHub | PornHub网站
For their cheeky Christmas offering, PornHub also employs the ubiquitous sad old man, though this chap is more horny than lonely. Given that online porn sites are illegal in China, it’s unlikely that the ad would make it past the censors, which is a shame, because it’s funny.