How to Do Chinese New Year Campaigns Right

2nd January 2020

4 Min Read

The Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) festivities run from 25 January to 8 February 2020. It’s the biggest celebration of the year in China and other East Asia countries, which opens up many advertising opportunities.

Bloomberg reported that consumers in China spent a total of US$149 billion on shopping and food during the week-long holiday.

You don’t need to be an Asian-based company to get a good ROI during Chinese New Year. Imported goods account for 63 percent of the items purchased, revealing a high demand for international companies.

Good Examples of Chinese New Year Ads

Apple created an ad called “Three Minutes.” It centers around Chinese consumers who aren’t able to take time away from work to visit their loved ones.

They make a personal sacrifice for their loved ones and have that acknowledged through a video shot with the iPhone X. The product takes a backseat to the poignant story that the ad tells.

Another Apple campaign showed the way that an artist could use its products when creating digital paintings of the Zodiac animals. This ad went beyond simply using the animal in its imagery, as it showed the effort that the Chinese artists put into the work. 

Apple also used the drawings on its website and allowed consumers to send them to one another for Chinese New Year greetings.

Coca-Cola is another international brand that has excellent ads for this holiday season. It already has a leg up over its competition since the color red is the primary color of the Chinese New Year. 

Their Share a Coke campaign, used in other areas of the world as well, fits in perfectly with the themes of family and togetherness.

They also have localized mascots for China-specific advertising. The mascots send out blessings during the Chinese New Year. Coca-Cola also leverages mobile marketing and AR technologies for integrated marketing campaigns and partners with large players in the Chinese market.

What Not to Do With Chinese New Year Ads

Cultural insensitivity and a lack of understanding the local market can lead to long-term issues.

A recent example is Dolce and Gabbana’s disastrous ad that showed a Chinese woman trying, and failing, to eat Italian food with chopsticks. While their advertising team may have thought it was an attempt at humor, Chinese consumers saw it as racist.

The backlash has lead to D&G products being pulled from JD.com, Alibaba and other Chinese e-commerce platforms. Prominent celebrities and businesses spoke out against this fashion company, leading to D&G canceling one of its shows.

Chinese New Year Themed Advertising Tips

The biggest theme for the Chinese New Year is family. Since many people spend these two weeks traveling to visit with their friends and loved ones, reconnecting is a common message in these ads.

Use the opportunity to tell meaningful stories that allow consumers to emotionally connect with your brand. You can emphasize the ways that your products help people get the most out of their quality time together or discuss the family values your organization holds.

Wholesome messaging performs well during Chinese New Year. Warm, welcoming stories help consumers feel good about your brand. You don’t need to shy away from heavier themes as long as they have a happy ending or relate to common family-related frustrations common in Chinese culture.

For example, many Chinese people immigrate and can’t make it home to see their family during this holiday. You can show how they can reconnect without being in the same place or ways to make the separation less painful.

Lucky red money packets, called hong bao, are a common gift during the Chinese New Year. They’ve also received a digital makeover, with companies offering virtual hong bao sent via SMS, social media and other channels. You can incorporate your own version of a hong bao in your marketing messages.

2020 is the Year of the Rat. It’s the first Zodiac animal and stands for wealth and wisdom. The traditional characteristics of this animal include optimism, kindness and being energetic. Play with these themes for your Chinese New Year advertisements.

When putting together your Chinese marketing plan, don’t forget to add WeChat and Weibo into your digital advertising channels. These platforms give you access to the largest audience in China and you’ll miss out on many sales opportunities if you skip them.

The Chinese New Year might start 25 January, but your marketing campaigns should begin long before that. Since many people have travel plans over those two weeks, they start shopping early on. 

You can capture those pre-holiday sales with well-timed ad campaigns that speak to their preparations.

Start Making Preparations

Chinese New Year is a massive advertising opportunity, whether you operate locally in East Asia or you want to be on this market’s radar as an international seller. 

Focusing on the themes of family and homecoming and avoiding problematic messaging sets you up for success during this two week holiday.