Peppa Pig Mania: What Chinese animators can learn from the British cartoon

World Today

The British cartoon character “Peppa Pig” was first introduced to China in 2015. Since then, it’s become a cultural icon. Why is it so successful? And what can China’s animation industry learn from it? CGTN’s Cui Hui’ao spoke to Peppa Pig’s Operations Director and one cartoon designer to find out.

At a gift shop at the China International Cartoon & Animation Festival in Hangzhou, people of all ages raving over Peppa Pig.

The British kids cartoon’s likeness has been made into toys, cups, lunch boxes, and more.

On the internet, the Peppa Pig buzz is even bigger. Countless memes, jokes, and videos have gone viral. People dub it in different dialects, and many have coined slang phrases. It’s a trendy thing to show off your Peppa Pig merchandise.

For Olivier Dumont, the president of Entertainment One Family (the company behind Peppa Pig), such mania has most to do with the success of the show.

“It’s a show about a family unit,” he explained. “When you look at kids’ preschool shows on TV, there aren’t that many about the family unit. So it’s a world which mirrors the world of preschool kids, same in China. The color is very bright and appealing to young children. There is a lot of humor in it. Kids find it funny, but there is also a lot of humor for the adults.”

On that note, industry insider Trevor Lai said that a successful cartoon character needs to appeal to not only kids, but also their gatekeepers, in order for the character’s habits and quotes to become pop culture.

He said the main lesson for Chinese animators is to dig into character design, as opposed to replicating the outside appearance of previous works.

“Really looking at the essence, the inside of the character, their motivation, personality, their background, where they grew up, what are some of the experiences define them as a character, why did they talk in this way,” said Lai, the CEO & creative director of Up Studios.

“These are some of the things that you can’t see, that are just or even more valuable than what’s on the outside.”

Lai said it usually takes years to build and refine a cartoon character. But once it catches an audience’s attention, it will likely become the next phenomenon, just like Peppa Pig.

It’s hard to tell how long this Peppa Pig mania will last in China. Some said it’s just a passing fancy. But it’s certainly both a cultural phenomenon and a business success that has something to teach Chinese animators.

Nick Stember on Peppa Pig’s appeal and the evolution of Chinese animation

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with translator and historian of Chinese comics Nick Stember to find out what’s behind the popularity of Peppa Pig in China and how Chinese animation has changed over time.