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How Disney exec's memories with her 'lola' helped create viral Christmas ad

Published Nov 09, 2020 6:06 am Updated Dec 03, 2020 9:06 am

Disney's newly launched and highly viral Christmas ad "From Our Family To Yours" prominently features aspects of Filipino heritage to deliver an animated story within three minutes about the timelessness of love and family. 

Just how did Disney manage to conceptualize and nail down such a nuanced and magical tale using Filipino elements?

According to an interview, Disney executive Angela Affinita—who is director of brand, marketing and creative—grew up with a Filipina grandmother. This experience helped in drawing up a rich visual environment in the ad that was filled with tons of knicknacks such as heriloom possessions and family photos.

“The ad for me is such a great reflection of the bonds between families. We all have unique traditions, especially at Christmas, so being able to draw on my own experience with my Filipina grandmother and the making of star lanterns to bring a level of authentic creativity is pretty special,” Anita said.

“One of my favourite moments is when Lola hangs the finished lantern in the window, which recalls some wonderful memories for me,” Anita fondly recalled

The designers likewise used their experiences with their own grandmothers to build up the environment filled with trinket collections accumulated over the years.

The lola's fondness for her Mickey Mouse toy helped bind the past and the future. (Courtesy: Walt Disney)

The team started working on the project since last December and relied on a cross-border workflow across timelines.

“Due to time differences [the artists in New Zealand] could share updates at their end of the day, we could review and then feedback, so it became a seamless operation,” said Affinita.

“The level of detail they have put into this has blown me away. It’s been a real labour of love for the artists involved, from the development to the characters,” Affinita said.

“We knew having a story that placed tradition and togetherness at its heart would make it feel relevant and relatable to people all over the world,” Affinita added.

What made the ad more transcendental and resonant across continents was it was free of dialogue. Instead, the story is underscored by the song "Love Is A Compass" performed by 19-year old UK artist Griff.

“The lyrics of the track and the storytelling in the advert are powerful, and important. The theme of family and loved ones are so front of mind for many of us – especially this Christmas,” Griff said in an another interview.