Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / World / Europe

Why Year of the Pig has already begun for Peppa

By ANGUS McNEICE | China Daily | Updated: 2019-01-22 09:40
Share - WeChat
The poster of Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year can be seen in downtown Shanghai, on Jan 21, 2019. [Photo/IC]

British franchise set for profitable 2019 in China with movie, tour, play center

The Year of the Pig is poised to deliver on its promise of wealth and good fortune in 2019 - at least for those companies in China that profit from all things Peppa Pig.

Recently awarded the status of "super-brand" by e-commerce platform Tmall, British preschool franchise Peppa Pig is set to bring home the bacon in China with a movie premier, the opening of a play center in Beijing, and the launch of a three-year stage tour.

The film - Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year- opens in cinemas in early February and is odds-on to be a hit, if the success of its promotional campaign is anything to go by.

Co-producers Alibaba Pictures and Toronto-based Entertainment One, which owns Peppa Pig programming, launched a teaser for the film last week that is already on its way to half a billion views on social media.

On Friday, following the release of the promo, Chinese stocks for BanBao Co and Alpha Group Co- who make Peppa Pig toys- leapt 10 percent and 7.3 percent respectively.

The teaser focuses on an elderly man in rural China who cobbles together a Peppa Pig toy out of scrap metal as a Spring Festival gift for his grandson. A focus on familial love is what has made this British animation so popular in China, according to Wei Zhang, president of Alibaba Pictures.

"The Peppa Pig series emphasizes the importance of family values, and that is something that deeply resonates with Chinese audiences," said Zhang.

Tom Harrington, a television analyst at Enders Analysis, said that Entertainment One's willingness to share the spoils with local partners such as Alibaba and various streaming platforms has also contributed to Peppa Pig's runaway success.

"It's very difficult for Western content creators to get stuff out in China without going into partnerships," said Harrington. "Not even Disney and Netflix can get into China properly. That's why it's so phenomenal about what's happened with Peppa Pig, they've found a way to make it work."

Entertainment One took control of the Peppa Pig brand in 2015 in a 140-million-pound ($180 million) deal with the show's creators, UK production company Astley Baker Davies.

That year, Peppa Pig was released in China where it became an instant hit, amassing more than 34 billion-episode views within two years.

Globally, the show has grown into one of the top-performing preschool franchises of all time, gaining more than 1,000 licensing agreements in 180 territories.

In the series, the eponymous lead character Peppa rarely ventures from a limited setting- usually her school, garden, home, or family vehicle- and this routine is easily relatable to children in different cultures, according to Justine Roberts, founder of British parenting forum Mumsnet.

"The Pig family's eating habits, relationship dynamics, and leisure choices are all things that might be universally appealing across culture," said Roberts.

Watching characters play out lives that are similar to their own is deeply reassuring for children, said Vanessa McHardy, a child psychotherapist and spokeswoman for the UK Council for Psychotherapy.

"And all the characters are animals, so Peppa Pig is identifiable regardless of your background or ethnicity," said McHardy.

Carly Shaker, who runs a children's charity in Canterbury, said her five-year-old daughter Isla shows no sign of losing interest in the program.

"It appeals to young children but also seems to have longevity as older children will happily watch it too," said Shaker. "I think its success is down to its simplicity."

Emily Roberts, a primary school teacher in West Sussex, said that the writing strikes a good balance - it's simple enough to engage a child yet interesting enough not to drive parents crazy.

"I often wondered why a family of pigs that so closely resembled hair dryers were so enchanting to my three children," said Roberts. "But on the occasions that I paid proper attention to the episodes, I found them to be benign, sometimes true to life and very jolly."

In China, fans of the show are set to be inundated with Peppa Pig content in the Year of the Pig. Merlin Entertainment, the British operator of visitor attractions, has confirmed plans to open a Peppa Pig World of Play in Beijing, having opened one in Shanghai last year.

Entertainment One is partnering with Happy Kids Cultural Development to take a Peppa Pig stage show on a three-year tour of China.

In the first half of last year, the company's family and brands division reported revenue growth of 29 percent, largely driven by strong Peppa Pig merchandise sales in China. Entertainment One recently opened an office in Shanghai dedicated to managing Peppa Pig's growth in the region.

Most Viewed in 24 Hours
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349