Your Shot: How Leo Burnett’s Uplifting Spanish Christmas Lottery Ad Created ‘Spain’s Grandma’
In Spain, the Christmas lottery is a massive annual tradition. The Sorteo Extraordinario de Navidad has been running since 1812 and an estimated 75% of Spanish adults take part. The event is synonymous with sharing – the prize fund is spread between thousands of people and many people enter as part of a syndicate.
For Leo Burnett Madrid, the work they create for the Christmas lottery is a pretty big deal – not just in terms of the huge sums of money that flows through the lotto (last year the prize fund was a whopping €2.24 billion), but the cultural impact too.
But it’s not just Spain that’s been getting excited about El Gordo (‘The Fat One’), which is drawn on December 22 every year. Over the past few years ad watchers have been getting hyped about the annual Spanish Christmas lottery ad. Last year’s Justino, the animated tale of a lonely night watchman, cleaned up at Cannes and 2014’s effort still leaves us a little wet around the eyes.
And this year’s spot is a heart-warming addition to the tradition. December 21st follows Carmina, an elderly lady who gets her dates mixed up but finds the whole town coming out to support her anyway. LBB’s Addison Capper spoke to Leo Burnett Madrid’s Chief Creative Officer Juan Garcia-Escudero about how the creatives found inspiration in rural Spain, the joy of working with a crew of 400 people… and how the spot’s star is fast becoming ‘Spain’s Grandma’.
LBB> Can you give us a bit of background to the importance of the Spanish lottery at Christmas?
JG-E> More than a product, this is a Christmas tradition in Spain. The whole country participates in this lottery and sharing in the draw is at the core of it. It has a unique system as numbers are divided into smaller parts so groups of people can play together with the same number and therefore, win together too.
LBB> Last year’s ‘Justino’ campaign was enormously successful, not just in Spain but across the world at award shows. It was a bit more fantastical overall in terms of the narrative and the use of animation. This one is very rooted in real life - family, a small town. What inspired that?
JG-E> We think the format of a story should be determined solely by the story itself.
When we created Justino, we felt that the best way to bring that story to life was through animation. In this case, the sense of community and the humanity that’s at the core of the idea demanded something more tangible and real.
LBB> And what inspired the idea of the grandma thinking she had won the lottery?
JG-E> Our challenge was to bring to life, or even more, to demonstrate the concept we’ve been working on since the beginning: “There’s no bigger prize than sharing”. This story brings out the idea that ultimately, sharing your life and your happiness with the people you love is more valuable than winning the big prize. That’s when it occurred to us that maybe we could demonstrate it through the story of somebody who thinks she’s won but actually hasn’t.
LBB> How much of the story, characters, and setting was influenced by the lives of the people working on this campaign?
JG-E> The setting was inspired by the lives of two of our creatives who were born in Asturias, in the north of Spain where the story takes place. These smaller and loving communities are typical of the more rural areas. It’s something most of us have experienced in our childhood when we all had to travel to our relatives’ hometowns over the holidays where everything tasted and felt so much more like Christmas.
LBB> It’s a slightly delicate subject - the older person confused about winning the lottery and which date it is. How did you ensure that you handled that with a positive spin?
JG-E> We tried to play it out as a confusion that anyone could have had. If you think about it, the days before Christmas are usually so busy and actually no one is 100% sure which day is the famous draw so the confusion could’ve happened to anyone.
LBB> The grandson is quite an interesting character - disinterested at first, but eventually takes to rounding the whole village up for his grandma. He’s pivotal to the whole narrative. Why did you decide to make him central to the story? And why does he take that path?
JG-E> Arcs are a part of what makes stories more interesting. We felt that the grandson was the perfect character for a believable arc.
He’s just like any other teenager in the beginning, disinterested and obsessed with his phone. However, when he starts to feel the magic of what’s happening with his grandmother, he starts to change and decides to have a more active role which is what ultimately saves the day. It’s also at the core of the “generosity VS selfishness” theme that is present throughout the story.
LBB> I really love all of the different scenarios - the hairdresser, the bar, the factory, the fisherman. There’s a real sense of togetherness that genuinely shines through. What was the atmosphere on set like?
JG-E> What you sense in the film was really there. There was a crew of more than 400 people and they truly behaved like a big family during the shoot.
Everyone felt that they were part of something special that would be loved by the whole country and so everyone was doing their best and was very supportive of each other.
LBB> Did you feel much pressure after the success of last year’s Christmas ad?
JG-E> We tried not to think too much about it, but there was a bit of that, for sure.
My goal was to end up producing something that would make us feel proud. I’d be satisfied as long as we managed that.
LBB> How has it been received in Spain?
JG-E> The country adores it. The film got more than 4 million organic views in less than three days and the online experience was a huge success too.
The actress that plays Carmina is on national TV doing interviews since it all started and I think she’ll become Spain’s grandma in no time.
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
JG-E> The hardest part was to get the tone right. In the beginning, we had more elements of humour in the story but we finally decided that this was, more than anything, an emotional story. One that had to speak directly to people’s hearts.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
JG-E> I’d just like to add that it’s a privilege and a huge luck to work for three consecutive years with whom, in my opinion, is the best advertiser in the country at the moment.
Eva Pavo and Fede Fernandez are the kind of client that every agency should have.
They love creativity, they are fearless and you truly feel that we are all part of the same team. Shouldn’t it always be like that?
You can watch the 2014 spot below:
And you can watch the 2015 spot here:
Genre: PR , People , Strategy/Insight