An ad for Centrum Vitamins that casts Tom Hiddleston as a caring but busy husband has been a smash hit on Chinese social media, but the west has labelled it as ‘creepy’.
The ad is a high profile example of how cultural nuance can divide opinions in different markets, and be the difference between a smash and a flop.
The mobile ad is set in a vertical format, ready for Chinese social networks, and depicts the actor as a kind and caring husband. In the ad, he surprises the viewer (cast as his wife) with a healthy breakfast (with egg and pepper on top, just how we like it). He apologises for being busy over the next few weeks and says that the viewer looks beautiful.
It was first released on his official account on Weibo, with a direct link to the Centrum's e-commerce store on JD.com. According to reports, Chinese netizens have said they have been out buying the vitamin brand for the first time as a direct result of the ad.
Despite this, critics in the west have called the ad ‘wierd’ and ‘creepy’. Tom Hiddleston speaks very slowly in the ad and has a very good command of the Chinese pronunciation of Centrum, which makes the production a little different from western ads.
Some have suggested that the ad succeeds for reasons such as the growing trend around health in China, and also Tom Hiddleston’s success in China from the Marvel films. Celebrity goes a long way in Chinese advertising, with many advertisers having to shell out huge parts of their budgets for celebrity endorsement and KOL involvement.
Last year, Roshni Chatterjee, head of White Space Innovations, APAC, at The Kraft Heinz Company, wrote for The Drum on the lessons she had learned launching a brand in China. She said using influencers effectively was one of five important lessons.