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Chinese New Year or CNY 2023 in online shorthand meant that for many people through Asia and beyond we are now in the year of the rabbit. You may see CNY 2023 also called lunar new year or ‘spring festival’. This post is later than I usually do for Chinese New Year, but that delay allowed me to watch more adverts so that you didn’t have to.
Traits of Chinese New Year
The rabbit is one of 12 signs in the Chinese zodiac. During the festival a number of things happen:
- Family members try to gather and visit wider family members. In mainland China, this triggers the world’s largest internal migration of people over a three week period. An article by Bloomberg estimated that mainland Chinese people will have made more than 520 million trips within the country by road, rail, water or air in the first 13 days of the new year
- People stay up late together, this apparently helps to give longevity to your parents
- There is a corresponding rise in food purchases, alcohol and other ancillary items. Depending where you are families may make dumplings together or toss bowls of noodles together in order to gain good fortune and prosperity
- There is a tradition of buying new clothes. In Hong Kong, going to sleep in (new) red underwear is believed to give good luck. Having a red theme to clothes is supposed to help bring good fortune
- Money. Money in currency and gold is gifted in red envelopes. Companies will pay their employees a lunar new year bonus, usually equivalent to one pay packet (a weeks wages, or a month’s salary was the norm in Hong Kong.) Bosses also give their employees a red envelope from their personal pocket.
- Zodiac animal themed items are popular with consumers as well
- There are media events. So in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia there is usually a ‘Chinese New Year’ song specially composed. Special films that are suitable for all age groups do well in the cinema such as Hong Kong’s ‘All’s Well that ends well’ series of movies
Consequently, from an advertising perspective this can be equivalent to Super Bowl Sunday in the United States or the Christmas season in the UK when brands drop their tent pole ad creative.
In general, the best adverts seem to come from Malaysia and Singapore rather than Hong Kong or China and CNY 2023 is no exception. Businesses that lean in particularly heavy to CNY 2023 advertising include telecoms companies, banks and financial services and health companies. Some FMCG brands also get involved, but that seems to be more sporadic in nature. Finally in CNY 2023, some sectors like airlines have more customers than they do available seats so there doesn’t seem to be a campaign by the likes of Cathay Pacific this year.
Apple puts on a film that showcases Chinese opera and tells an individual tale of persistence as part of its shot on an iPhone series of films.
Coca-Cola features a touching story about a family of rabbits celebrating lunar new year. I can’t embed here because Coca-Cola China seems to be using all YouTube’s copyright tools for some reason.
It apparently says:
Time will change, traditions will change, and the expectation of reunion will never change. A bowl of handmade dumplings evokes the taste of the New Year in memory. A can of Coca-Cola can fully release the beauty of reunion. The first words of reunion in everyone’s mouth are Coca-Cola® Cheers! Regardless of whether the dishes on the table this year are classic dishes or trendy New Year dishes, as long as they are paired with “Coca-Cola”, the magic of delicious food can be opened, and the whole family can welcome the new and beautiful “rabbit-morrow” together!Translation by Hakumi Chan
China is opening up and Gucci wants to get its share of revenge spending. Hence a lavish short film to celebrate the year of the Rabbit (and a platinum UnionPay card to buy it with).
Japanese lager Asahi Super Dry put together this ad with surprising production values compared to other efforts in the market.
Bing Chilling is a local ice cream brand. It has an ear worm of a Chinese New Year song and manages to make the product fit naturally into the film – which is no mean feat.
Khazanah Nasional Berhad (“Khazanah”) is the sovereign wealth fund of Malaysia. The film about a ‘leap of fortune’ is an apropos theme to the brand.
To celebrate KitKat pink ice cream Nestle’s ice cream marketers commissioned an advert that put together a catchy song and campy outfitted young people to create CNY 2023 perfection.
Listerine mouthwash captures the tension of a family photo orchestrated by a demanding Auntie.
Magnum is a mobile gaming app, as a brand think of it as a Malaysian analogue to Foxy Bingo.
Pure product porn with a flimsy plot line of a reunion for Chinese New Year.
Pepsi focuses on nostalgia with a slice of romance in its advert.
A second Pepsi film encourages consumers to finish their canned drinks rather than having multiple cans partly used – a common problem during lunar new year gatherings. Creatively, you can see the influence of Hong Kong television programmes on wider asian culture to this day.
Malaysia’s system which games access to public education to the benefit of the Malay ethnic group has fuelled demand for private universities at home and abroad. Taylor’s University is a private university based in Selangor. This seven minute film comes across as your usual tearjerker, but has a couple of twists in the plot to keep you guessing.
Malaysian pre-paid mobile carrier TuneTalk focused on how broken friendships and relationships are healed as part of the process of coming together through CNY 2023. Alex and Cindy will be reunited!
Hong Kong headquartered pharmacy retail chain wishes you a Happy Beautiful New Year for CNY 2023.
You can even more Malaysian ads here.
Singapore’s incumbent telecoms company brings back the rival, but related Ang and Huang families for their fourth outing in their annual series Chinese New Year advertisements.
Singapore’s Tiger beer did this advert for its home market. It also did experiential activities that tied into the advert too. The agency who did it is called Le PUB – nominative determinism in action.
HSBC Canada (in partnership with the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco)
The case study speaks for itself and I can understand why it appeals to well heeled Vancouver residents who call Hong Kong home.
McDonalds US x Karen X Cheng
The US arm of McDonalds partnered with Karen X Cheng to create augmented reality based CNY 2023 with a QRcode type glyph on food packaging at participating restaurants.