The importance of family has long been a key component of traditional Chinese society, born out of deep-seated cultural values. However, through a combination of increasing influence of Western culture, a growing focus on personal social lives and increasing workloads, these values are beginning to be eroded, especially in big cities. Young people are increasingly regarding their parents as an inconvenient hindrance, choosing to leave them and their extended family members in the countryside in favor of forming their own families in cities.
In response, in 2010 Red Star Macalline Furniture created ‘Family Day’ aimed at reminding people of the essential importance and value of the family unit. Last month they released their new spot for the occasion. With the tagline ‘Love your family, because your family loves you’, the film tells the story of an ill-treated employee who, after being comforted by the embrace of her family’s unselfish love, is reminded just how valuable they are. The film closes with the simple but resonant statement, “Family is the only place for willing love and support”.
According to Shanghai agency W Creative Director Li Sanshui, the aim was to steer clear of the ‘love your family’ clichés, instead emphasizing the steadfast support they provide. The concept, he explains, was to liken the role of furniture in the home to that of a family, adding that, ‘only our family can accept what the others cannot, only our family will always stand besides us to understand and tolerate the worst parts of us. Whether we like to admit it or not, our family is our doormat.”
Whilst the spot has received a largely positive response since its release on December 3rd, some detractors have accused the agency of plagiarizing the concept from the award-winning Argentinian animation El Empleo by director Santiago Bou Grasso. Li contests that the idea of people dressing as lifeless objects is nothing new, and that the crucial difference between El Empleo and the commercial is the message behind it. He adds, “It doesn’t matter if our commercial is similar to the animation, we think it is a success as long as people like it.”
The spot was directed and produced by renowned Thai director Mum, known for his humor and no-nonsense approach. Li was struck with Mum’s professionalism and dedication, highlighting in particular his insistence on shooting retakes where others would have said ‘good enough’. Li explains that this attitude is precisely the reason he chose Mum and his production team MumFilm, “a world-class production isn’t just about inviting a famous foreign director or shooting abroad, but rather the pride in and dedication to the work.”
Li offered his thanks to Red Star Macalline for their support and the creative freedom allowed to his team, “They had faith in our team. This commercial is totally different from what they’ve made before in that it connects the brand’s idea with its main product.”
The surreal spot represents a new humorous string to the W bow. Their increasingly diverse body of work is largely created in-house by their compact creative team. When asked how he gets the best from them, he repeats his mantra, “Take pride in your work. It’s not a relationship like employer to employees – treat clients work as your own.”