Día de Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a holiday steeped in tradition, developed from ancient customs of Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past.
The three-day holiday, which takes place from October 31 through November 2, celebrates the memory of the dead, and Cerveza Victoria has long built on its cultural significance–most notably through a series of annual films that bring Indigenous mythologies to life in new ways. MediaMonks has collaborated with the brand and Ogilvy to produce each of these films, including this year’s, “Icnocuícatl,” which pays tribute to the power of the written word in saying goodbye.
Unifying People by Celebrating Traditions
The film is emotional and gripping–and complimented by digital touchpoints, seeks to make an ancient tradition more accessible to modern audiences as they celebrate the memory of their loved ones. “Each year we try to find a new cultural tradition to unearth,” says Mauricio Gaya, Copywriter at MediaMonks. “Mexicans are well acquainted with tradition, but there are always new things that we can learn about when we look back to our past.”
In modern decades, the Day of the Dead has served as a unifying national tradition, making the holiday an ideal opportunity to help people–both in Mexico and afar–engage with old traditions that may be new to them. “One of Victoria’s objectives has always been to bring people closer to their traditions, and to help empower those traditions and give people the opportunity to celebrate them together,” says Gaya.
Mexico is culturally rich, home to several Indigenous communities who each have their own customs and traditions. Our two previous films with and Cerveza Victoria depicted traditional mythologies of the underworld, as conceived by the Aztecs in 2018 and the Mayans in 2019, using post-production and CGI to transform time-honored stories into visually stunning realities.
One of Victoria’s objectives has always been to bring people closer to their traditions and give them the opportunity to celebrate them together.
This year’s film introduces audiences to icnocuícatl, an ancient poetic genre to say goodbye to the dead that is still used by Nahuatl-speaking communities today. An old and traditionally oral genre, icnocuícatl isn’t particularly well-known by most. “Icnocuícatl” aims to represent the genre faithfully, and the team worked with Nahuatl writer Natalio Hernández, who served as a cultural advisor, early in the concepting stage.
The film is also presented in a version narrated in Nahuatl, giving viewers the chance to hear the poem in the genre’s traditional language. (“Journey to the Underworld,” our first Day of the Dead film with Cerveza Victoria, was notable for being the first native-language TVC aired in Mexico and was also narrated in Nahuatl.)
Adding New Relevance to Today’s Audience
The decision to move away from the underworld as the film’s subject matter came from the team’s desire to treat this year’s film with added sensitivity due to the pandemic. But the team didn’t want to make something that future audiences would look back on as a “COVID ad”: the goal of the annual films is to transcend time by letting modern viewers engage with the past, and by focusing on the people and objects left behind this time around, “Icnocuícatl” amounts to an experience that remains universal.
“They managed to make something meaningful out of empty spaces—it’s about the person’s belongings, incomplete portraits,” says Gaya, noting the palpable void left behind while family members solemnly inhabit domestic scenes of the departed. “The film is visually powerful because they tap into that: these objects really resonate and talk about personality and character.”
While the film speaks to a universal human experience, digital elements make the campaign’s focus on celebrating tradition more personal. Through a WebGL experience, we invited visitors to make an ofrenda, or offering, at a digital altar to celebrate their loved ones–much like they’d do in their own homes. This is inspired by what we did for last year’s Xibalba campaign, which won an FWA of the Day—but this time, we encouraged visitors to try their hand at writing an icnocuícatl poem themselves, directly engaging with the poetic form to become acquainted with it.
“Once you tap into the tradition, it’s pretty visceral and powerful,” says Gaya. “The tagline is: ‘dedicated to those who left without the chance to say goodbye.’ By giving people the chance to dig out those words and find closure, the experience can be powerful and cathartic.” In this way, Cerveza Victoria leverages the reach of film with the personalized power of interactive, digital experiences–a perfect way to make an ancient tradition feel more tangible and accessible to new audiences, both local or new to Indigenous Mexican culture.
Make our digital heart beat faster
Get our newsletter with inspiration on the latest trends, projects and much more.