EL GORDO

Revealed: Spain’s latest Christmas lottery ad

Spanish filmmaker behind a classic piece of storytelling for the latest big-budget production

2016 Christmas Lottery ad.

A retired teacher, a disinterested grandson and a village wishing to make an old woman’s dreams come true: these are the elements of the latest video advertising Spain’s all-important, traditional Christmas lottery.

Held every year on December 22, the Christmas lottery – the year’s biggest, known as El Gordo, or the Fat One – brings the nation to a halt. Millions tune in to watch the live broadcast of the event, which lasts several hours and features students from Madrid’s San Ildefonso school singing out the winning numbers and prizes.

Filmed under dark skies in the picturesque seaside village of Villaviciosa in Asturias, the video tells the story of retired school teacher Carmina

The lottery has been around since the early 19th century and has given rise to all sorts of theories about which numbers are most likely to turn up and where the best places in the country to buy tickets are.

In recent years, however, the big-budget videos advertising the lottery have become almost as important as the event itself, with the latest contributions the object of much debate.

The award-winning animated 2015 video featuring a lonely security guard at a factory producing shop front dummies was a huge hit, as was the 2014 tearjerker about the out-of-work Manu who hadn’t bought a share in the sweepstake at his local bar.

By contrast, the 2013 ad, which featured a quintet of famous Spanish singers gathered around a communal Christmas tree, was pilloried as a pure kitsch, with social media users wasting no time in creating parodies.

For the 2016 video, the State Lotteries and Betting Agency (LAE) have reverted to classic storytelling. Filmed under dark skies in the picturesque seaside village of Villaviciosa in the northern region of Asturias, the video directed by Spanish filmmaker Santiago Zannou tells the story of retired school teacher Carmina.

At the beginning of the five-minute film, Carmina overhears the singing children of San Ildefonso school and believes she holds the winning ticket. But there is a twist. What she has actually seen is a repeat of a previous year’s draw, and this year’s Gordo is set to be drawn the next day.

However, rather than disappoint the grandmother, the people of Villaviciosa indulge her, each playing their part in making her believe she has indeed won Spain’s biggest prize. At the end of the film, when her son is about to come clean about the ruse, Carmina stops him in his tracks and says that she would rather he and his family take the ticket. “Imagine if we actually win tomorrow!” says his wife with a smile.

English version by George Mills.

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