John Lewis, you’ve got competition… A funny, heart-warming story from the biggest online marketplace in Poland made many people look for tissues manically – here’s why this wonderful advertisement will make your day.
Allegro is an auctioning service that’s far more popular than eBay in Poland; known by most of the people who are online as an ultimate shopping destination, it has never gained so much interest outside the country as this Christmas. Recently, they’ve released the ad that made everyone’s heart melt – it’s funny, it’s touching, it’s so real to many of Poles who are here in the UK, to many of us who are emigres, and also to the English-speaking world.
Reading the appreciative comments across the magazines and social media made me think if there was ever an advert in Polish (well, technically, a Polish advert in English) which would cause so much buzz and play on people’s emotions so hard. With this trend in advertising that connects to emotions stronger than to anything else, Allegro nailed their campaign – and can probably label it as a huge success already, at more than four million YouTube views.
What’s in the ad that’s so poignant? An elderly man orders “English for Beginners” from the website and starts learning the language, step by step. He’s living alone – his kids have probably grown up and moved out; his loyal company is a cute dog sitting beside him. He repeats the conjugation of “to be” tirelessly and memorises the words one by one to step up his game soon. We don’t know what he’s learning it for – until he gets a suitcase and the plane ticket to the UK.
On the first night after the company has released the advert, it spread among the Polish community on Twitter like a wildfire. The Grandpa is funny when learning the language – the corners of your mouth will go up instantly when you hear him threatening his rubber duck with some swear words that he didn’t probably grasp just yet, or asking the imagined conversational partner to show him the way to the beach. But it’s the climax of the ad, at the very end, when he arrives at the home of his son in the UK and speaks to his grandson in English that oozes with warmth and optimism.
I’ve got no family on my own here myself. But I know Polish people who do, whose children started speaking English as a native language, so the portrayed situation is more than relevant. What’s more, that ad made me think of my family back home instantly – none of them speaks English, and inviting them here, sooner or later, will probably effect in a sequence of heart attacks and making sure I’m assisting them all the time so that they don’t get lost and have everything they need. Listening to the Grandpa pronouncing words in a new language makes me think of my sister – she received a letter from my uni sent to my old address, and while trying to explain it to me, she started reading the words in a lovingly Polish manner – phonetically.
It’s probably a little silly to pitch you another slogan and say that we needed better messages (and adverts that can count as such, as there’s a massive creative mastermind force that curates and polishes the message to perfection and they hit the ordinary man everywhere he’s got access to) for those tough times. In fact, I’ve got little authority to say so. But when Brexit stirred up the stability of all the EU citizens in the UK, when the hate crimes became something much more prominent than before, and – to point to the other side of the stick, too – when nationalism and xenophobia rose across Europe, we need such warm, positive messages that unite generations and unite nations. And why did the ad make me weep and laugh at the same time? It shows how much our generation has grown up to be the citizens of the world, and how we get our parents involved in that. And I’d like to believe that so many people think so – judging by how many people could appreciate this short film.
Now, watch the ad if you haven’t seen it yet, and let your heart melt slowly.