Disney’s Angela Affinita on the magical Filipino Christmas video

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“From Our Family To Yours” tugs at very specific heartstrings for Filipinos all over the world, but the message it carries is also universal. Screencap from DISNEY UK/YOUTUBE

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Filipinos are known for celebrating one of the longest Christmas seasons in the world. When Disney UK released their now viral 2020 Christmas advert, Filipinos around the world celebrated as it represented our heritage and familial traditions come Christmas.

The video has over two million views on the Disney UK YouTube channel as of this writing.

It was developed and produced by Disney EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) and their in-house creative team, led by Angela Affinita, the Director of Brand Marketing and Creative, in partnership with New Zealand-based Flux Animation Studios. The video is running in 27 countries around the world.

“From Our Family To Yours,” tugs at very specific heartstrings for Filipinos all over the world, but the message it carries is also universal. Affinita says, “We wanted to celebrate the connection that families have with our characters, so while Mickey Mouse plays a central role throughout the story, it made sense to introduce a new family.”

We asked Affinita a few more questions about the inspirations and cultural touchstones of the beloved Christmas ad.

Can you tell us more about the story behind the video?

We talked to families across EMEA to understand the role that Disney plays in their lives at Christmas. They told us it was all about nostalgia, traditions and bringing families together.

“From Our Family To Yours” brings those themes to life. Our campaign celebrates the power of family, the meaningful traditions that make magical memories and the role of Disney in connecting generations. It tells the touching and relatable story of Lola and her granddaughter, with Mickey Mouse playing a key role in their relationship, and demonstrates how families from all over the world are brought together through shared experiences that cross generations.

The video has had a huge impact on Filipinos around the world. Have many reached out to you and told you about what the video meant to them?

One of the inspirations in this video is my relationship with my Filipino grandmother. Over the years, we have built a Christmas tradition of building star lanterns and being able to translate that in the story brought a special level of authentic creativity. I am deeply grateful by how the ad turned out touching the lives of many. Through this video, we wanted to celebrate traditions and how these can help bridge generations and form strong bonds [among] families. Looking at the response so far, we do hope that we were able to achieve that.

Mickey Mouse symbolized a lot of things for lola in the movie. For you, are there any Disney toys/merch that symbolized many things personally as well?

For nine decades Mickey Mouse has stood for hope and optimism. For many – myself included – he represents happiness, friendship, and childhood nostalgia. As seen in our Christmas advert, Mickey plays an important role in the relationship between the grandmother and granddaughter, demonstrating how families from all over the world are brought together through shared experiences.

There are specific Filipino traditions/icons in the video, such as the mano and the parol. Given how Disney is a global brand, are these traditions universal?

The video is a story about Christmas traditions, one that draws on the relationship between families. While the mano and the star lantern/parol are distinctly Filipino traditions, we are happy how this resonated with a global audience who appreciates the role of traditions in keeping close bonds. It’s the personal stories that are the most authentic, that nugget of truth that connects with the audience watching is what makes them so appealing.