In a popular commercial, Grandfather Li Yubao makes an image of Peppa using his imagination and homely tools like a bellows (COURTESY PHOTO)
With the countdown having started to the Chinese Spring Festival, the pig will come under a lot of limelight since 2019 is the Year of the Pig in the Chinese lunar calendar.
Actually, the spotlight was turned on January 17, when a five-minute commercial, telling the story of a Chinese grandfather's first encounter with Peppa Pig, the popular character from the British animated TV series Peppa Pig, went viral.
The China Mobile commercial cleverly brings together the British film character with Chinese cultural elements and shows how bridges can be built between cultures and generations.
Grandfather Li Yubao lives in a remote village while his son works in the city. For senior Chinese like him, whose children and grandchildren live far away, the Spring Festival is the traditional time they can reunite and sit down together for dinner.
Li dotes on his grandson and wants to surprise him with a new-year gift. He knows the child loves Peppa Pig but has no clue what it is. So he goes around the village, asking everyone if they know anything about Peppa Pig. Then using the scraps of information he gets as well as his imagination, he welds together scraps of metal to fashion something uncannily resembling the face of the cartoon character though he has never seen it.
"The story is simple but real," said Li Jingjing, a manager in U.S. company Caterpillar’s Beijing office and the mother of two. "There is a communication gap between our parents and us. They are always trying to bridge the gap by learning about our world."
The most touching thing for many viewers is the story of how a “left-behind” old man accomplishes an impossible task.
"The grandfather doesn't stop or complain," Ju Shiyi, a public relations manager, told Beijing Review. "He asks as many people as he knows, analyzes their answers and works on them."
The British cartoon series has been popular in China as well since it began to be shown in the country in 2015. Both the films and related merchandise have a huge market in China, in cities as well as the countryside.
A movie about Peppa Pig will also be screened during the Spring Festival season. While meant to enhance the telecommunication company’s popularity, it has also seen Peppa’s popularity soar right before the Year of the Pig.
"It is the first popular work with positive power to have gone viral in 2019," Zhai Na, a TV producer, told Beijing Review.
Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar
Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org