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This Year's Lovely Christmas Ad for the Spanish Lottery Has a Surprising Outcome: Nobody Wins


The Spanish Christmas lottery is special. It boasts one of the biggest prize pools in the world, and paid out more than $2 billion in prizes last year. 

Lotto tickets are typically sold in series—employers can give the same number to employees, or whole communities can buy into a shared hope of fortune. If their number is drawn, the prize is split among everyone. Most Spanish people hold a portion of the Christmas lottery stakes every year, even if they don't play at any other time. 

Building on that sense of collective hope, the drawing happens Dec. 22; whole lives can be changed over the holidays. As a result, community and sharing have become key to how the Spanish lottery promotes itself.

"Antonio's Bar," from 2014, is among our favorite examples. Last year's ad, "Justino," about a night watchman and his mannequins, won the Cyber Grand Prix at Cannes.

The 2016 commercial, titled "December 21st," launched this week. Like the past two spots, it was created by Leo Burnett Madrid. In this one, retired schoolteacher Carmina mistakenly believes that she and her community have won the draw—the day before it actually happens.

Carmina makes the rounds of the village and builds a crowd of celebrants while her reluctant family follows, alternately convincing people to play along ... and bracing themselves for the best time to tell her the truth. 

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There are plenty of charming moments here, but most touching is the transformation of Carmina's apathetic grandson. We meet him when he moodily refuses a meal that Carmina's made. But as the stakes get higher, he becomes the most earnest participant in the charade, going so far as to convince journalists to interview her, and tearing calendar numbers off the walls.

This is what makes Spanish lotto ads so resonant. The hope of winning is a pretext for illustrating what it means to be part of a community. But "December 21st" is also different from its forbears. Unlike in past ads, nobody has really won this time, and it isn't likely they will. (They're apparently all holding the winning numbers from last year.) 

Instead, the gift Carmina's village finds is their eagerness to share in the enthusiasm of someone they love; the outcome of the draw has become irrelevant. 

State lotto creators hope that feeling will be contagious. On an accompanying website, users can interact with eight separate stories related to Carmina's, helping her son and grandson organize the townspeople. A Facebook Messenger execution will enable "villagers" to help keep the excitement alive, too. 

The spot was directed by Santiago Zannou, and this long version will be available only online. A shorter version, at 3:30, will appear on TV, teased with :60 and :30 trailers.

Advertiser: SELAE
Client: Eva Pavo, Federico Fernández
Product: Christmas Lottery
Campaign: "December 21st"
Agency: Leo Burnett Madrid
CCO: Juan García-Escudero
ECD: Jesús Lada
CD: Ignacio Soria y Arturo Benlloch
Art Directors: Javier Lopez Canle
Account Director: Sara Iglesias
Account Manager: Sara Cubillo
Producer: Nico Sánchez, Juanjo Ocio
Production company: RCR
Director: Santiago Zannou
Executive Director: Miguel Escribano
Music: Fernando Velázquez
Site: www.21dediciembre.es

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