It’s hard to imagine a shopping festival of Double Eleven proportions anywhere else but China. And it’s even more impossible to imagine it now in our pandemic-stricken world. But again, only in China can this be a reality. And with it comes the onslaught of commercials from brands promoting their products. This year’s hilarious commercials by the e-commerce giants Tmall and JD would feel tone-deaf anywhere else, but humor seems to open wallets better in this country, which is seemingly pandemic free. With China’s economy still recovering from the virus, advertising for the world’s largest shopping event also reflect its changes. One e-commerce platform is even going as far as voicing the “anti-consumerism” message in a satirical attack on advertising at large.
2019 Tmall Gala 天猫狂欢夜
“Every year at this time people are telling me how to spend money” starts a commercial film of NetEase online shopping platform. In 95 seconds, a spot that’s brought to life by Hangzhou production house GetBigStory, shifts from a subtle mockery of advertising that overpromises to bidding farewell to consumerism. One by one, the female character contradicts the famous slogans from the first part of the ad: “It’s not the sneakers on my feet that make impossible possible, it’s the path underneath my feet” ; “It’s not the appearance that changes destiny, but passion”. The protagonist’s life is portrayed rich with experience, not things: she prepares for important meetings, plays sports, travels, cooks. Playing well into the young generation’s desire to be special, the commercial concludes with a message that life should be defined by a unique you, not consumerism.
Unlike NetEase that refused to play by the rules of Double 11 this year, two of the biggest e-commerce rivals JD and Tmall continue the race. In tune with this year’s higher stakes to stimulate the economy with consumption, both platforms’ commercial films return to simpler, down-to-earth messaging of instant benefits. Humorous short-videos united by one theme might be the common denominator, but Tmall approaches the task with more imagination.
A series of 20-seconds videos belong to a familiar genre of Chinese advertising, that packages the main promotion points into various humorous situations. Between the shorts about this year’s “Double 11 gameplay” and “good products”, the series amounts to 11 scenes. From classroom and basketball court to film set and bomb squad in the subway— STARTFilms navigated between various locations. As the production house explains in the article, finishing the shoot at 5 a.m in the subway, then rushing to the location of rice paddies, sending the team to Anji 4 times during Golden Week just to shoot the film set scene in Shanghai in the end—this gives you the idea of how intense the production for this commercial was. Against tight deadlines, and on the verge of exhaustion, the result justifies the means, as Tmall has a series of shorts prepared and well-executed with, perhaps, more effort than some longer commercial films require.
中国广告常用的一种形式，是将宣传的要点分散到一系列的20秒短广告中，以不同的幽默场景呈现。而天猫今年的广告，将“双十一玩法”和“好物”，编绘到了11个不同的场景中。从教室，篮球赛场，到电影片场和地铁中紧张拆弹的小队，STARTFilms带我们看遍各种不同的场所。片方在官微中也透露，影片的拍摄紧凑，凌晨5点刚刚结束地铁篇的拍摄，就得火速赶到稻田篇的拍摄现场，他们在国庆黄金周期间就跑了四次浙江安吉勘景，最终因为条件的限制，改回上海搭景拍摄 —— 由此我们可以一窥这部广告的拍摄是多么紧张。制片团队赶着进度，在疲惫中坚持，最终这些辛苦与努力都反映在了优秀的广告片中，天猫的这一系列短片广告准备充分，呈现完美，投入的精力不亚于部分长篇商业电影的标准。
Finally, JD also already started its Double Eleven advertising in October to catch up with Tmall’s efforts to extend this year’s shopping spree. To counteract Tmall’s two-phase preorder windows that allowed shoppers to get into the shopping festival earlier, JD offers their own benefits— insurance against heightened price, preorder, and instant delivery among others. This is reflected in one of the early ads of the e-commerce platform, brought to life by Mera production house. Set in a classroom where famous teacher/entrepreneur Luo Yonghao explains to the students that “preorder and in-stock” are not contradictory ideas, as well as the math of saving if you buy on JD in a series of exaggeratedly humorous shorts.
最后，京东也在10月份开始了双十一的宣传，以赶上天猫今年升级扩张的购物狂潮。为了抵消天猫分两段预购，允许购物者提前进入购物节的政策影响，京东也拿出了自己的杀手锏 —— 膨胀价保、现货预售，即时配送以及其他优惠利好等等。而这些利好由美啦美啦Mera制片为京东这一电商平台打造的广告片中，为观众们划好了重点。广告由著名企业家罗永浩领衔主演，以不同科目幽默课堂的形式呈现，而罗老师在片中向学生们解释了“现货与预售”其实不矛盾这一知识点，还带着大家计算了在京东购物可获得的优惠。
The Double Eleven shopping festival has reportedly broken the previous year’s record since its inception in 2009. How much sales the first post-pandemic major shopping festival will generate this year is yet to be known. But the voices criticizing the overconsumption trend that this festival stimulates are also growing louder each year as well. Coming from opposite ends, the commercial with an anti-consumerism message and the more down-to-earth short ads about shopping benefits, are allowing both the big e-commerce players to stay relevant and in tune with the current situation