To mark the eleventh annual November 11 Singles’s Day shopping festival, Alibaba’s Tmall created its first short film, a touching modern family story that incorporates fairy tale elements.
The online retailer’s film, “The Eleventh Xu Yuanwang” (第11代许愿望) is set in the fictional Cat Head Mountain Village, where a member of each generation of the Xu family inherits the name “Xu Yuanwang” upon reaching adulthood in order to continue an annual tradition of making villagers’ wishes come true (yuanwang means wish). A young woman named Xu Duoduo is in line to become the eleventh Xu Yuanwang once she completes the task of fulfilling three wishes for others. However, she is torn between her father’s desire to see her become Xu Yuanwang and her own wish to leave the village to pursue her dreams.
The film’s themes of family, love and personal growth are addressed with lighthearted humor, with the goal of creating an emotional connection between viewers and Tmall’s shopping festival under the guise of making wishes come true, which refers directly to the slogan for this year’s Singles’ Day (愿望11实现).
Tmall’s brand is subtly noted in the name of the village, which echoes Tmall’s Chinese name, “heavenly cat” (天猫), and through visual references to Tmall’s logo, with cat ears appearing as part of a hill overlooking the hamlet and on the roof of Duoduo’s treehouse. The number 11 and the date November 11 pop up throughout the film, although there is no explicit mention of Singles’ Day shopping.
The film was directed by Misi Teqi, an experienced brand moviemaker who has worked with Land Rover, Didi and China UnionPay, among others, with WMY Beijing as the production company.
“We wanted to tell consumers that wishes are not fairy tales or beautiful bubbles,” said Misi. “Even in this age of fast-paced, large-scale consumption, each person’s wishes are worth hearing out, and there should be various ways of fulfilling them.”
The film received an overall positive reception and was popularized by comedian/ influencer “Gu Slang” (谷大白话), whose Weibo post of the film has received more than 3 million views. However, it does not appear that Tmall promoted the film on its own Weibo account.