How would you feel if you woke up to find British actor Tom Hiddleston in your kitchen?
If you are a Chinese woman, chances are you’d be quite happy. That’s based on the positive reaction to a new ad for Centrum vitamins featuring the 38 year-old star.
In it a woman gets out of bed, goes downstairs and finds a sharply- dressed Hiddleston chopping vegetables.
“I finished early so I thought I’d pop back and make you breakfast,” he says, looking directly into the camera. He slides a heart-shaped fried egg on top of the salad, remembers she likes a dash of black pepper, and tells the woman she “looks great”.
“Oh and don’t forget your Centrum,” he adds in Chinese.
Hiddleston – who is known as Dousen (which means ‘shivering forest’) in China – posted the ad on his official weibo account on March 27 and immediately attracted thousands more followers. Many posted photos of their newly-purchased Centrum vitamins in response.
“I have watched this ad over 30 times,” wrote one. “I feel like your wife not your fan,” said another.
The minute-long commercial is shot from the point of view of the woman and is framed in a vertical format giving it the look of an intimate smartphone video.
For the female audience in China the ad clearly worked, as the South China Morning Post’s Inkstone News pointed out. Inkstone reckoned it tapped into several key desires: to eat healthily, to live in a spacious home and to have a husband who is good-looking, sensitive and willing to do household chores.
One fan even created a new video interspersing her own words with those of Hiddleston’s so it seems he is talking to her (we never hear the woman in the original ad actually speak).
On the contrary, many Western viewers said they found the ad “weird” or “creepy” when it was posted on social media sites overseas.
Also deemed strange: the fact that Hiddleston says he “got off work” early – around what appears to be 6am – but then has to leave the house again after breakfast saying “I’ll probably be a bit busy for the next few weeks but I’ll make it up to you soon, I promise”.
“Is this what it would feel like to be Tom Hiddleston’s mistress,” asked one Twitter user. “What’s his job? Assassin?” asked another.
Then there was the issue of the breakfast: a plate of boiled carrots, sweetcorn, kale and blackberries topped with a fried egg.
“You could live to be a thousand years old and never find another breakfast quite this unpalatable,” The Guardian suggested.
But Chinese fans pushed back saying such overseas reactions were “arrogant” and “full of discrimination against Asian women”.
“They don’t like that he is making ads for Asian women. But I am an Asian woman and I like the ad. I will buy the product,” thundered one Hiddleston fan.
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