Nick Erskine-Shaw
Feb 15, 2018

Chinese New Year videos: Old dog, new tricks

Nick Erskine-Shaw shares a few tips on how all brands, big and small, can get in on the action as we enter the Year of the Dog.

Chinese New Year videos: Old dog, new tricks

Chinese New Year is the most culturally important holiday in high-growth Asia-Pacific, and for brands, a festive ad campaign could make all the difference between a prosperous or poor festive season.

Indeed, amidst family reunions and cultural observances, shopping is at an all-time high in the run-up to the new year. For the advertisers whose spots stand out in the ad blitz, the end result not only catapults their brand into the spotlight, but also positively impacts their bottom line.

According to retargeting company Criteo, which analysed some 3.5 million online transactions, the food and fashion categories saw the highest sales lift of 53% and 45%, respectively between January 4 through 22. Last year, the daily average transaction on Tmall and Taobao during the new year period grew 42% and 36%, respectively. The offline numbers, we reckon, are just as remarkable.

Let’s look at a few different ways brands tapped into key trends this year.

Add a fresh twist to traditional campaigns

Lunar New Year campaigns typically follow a tried-and-tested route—and that’s not a bad thing. I don’t think new year campaigns need to be particularly different; they just need to resonate with ever-evolving consumers. In 2018, this has meant giving video adverts a fresh twist by focusing more on youth and youth culture.

One solid example of this is RHB Bank’s ad featuring champion diver Cheong Jun Hoong, which highlights her dedication to preparing for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the support she receives from family and friends. Similarly, Budweiser offered a refreshing spin on family reunions with its ad on a marathon runner breaking away from traditions and bravely pursuing her dreams—ultimately with the support of reluctant parents.

To be sure, the appeal and appetite for lengthy storytelling and more traditional campaigns is very present in certain sectors like telecom and government. But for others, social exposure, brand placement and shorter content is starting to drive results.

Leverage social media

As such, Chinese New Year advertising is rapidly moving online. Last year, Facebook claimed that in the month leading up to Chinese New Year people spent more time on its platform, which resulted in 80% more conversions compared to the rest of the year.

Indeed, advertisers now make special versions of their ads to be shared on Facebook, Instagram, Weibo and WeChat. Last year, Nestle in Vietnam repurposed an existing TV campaign for mobile audiences and ran it on Facebook and Instagram, helping to build stronger association for the new year period and boosting sales.

Some companies, like Coca Cola, are also integrating augmented reality and other technologies into their social activations. Consumers who unlock AR features can see digital animations that deliver holiday wishes and ‘hand’ users a red envelope, which can be spent on Alipay. The results so far have been tremendous, with more than 6.6 million people watching the AR animation and receiving gift money in the two weeks since it launched.

None of this is to suggest that small firms can’t make the most of the festive season, though. Despite a limited budget, smaller brands can make a big impact by keeping things snappy and simple. You don’t need to write a detailed script packed with emotional content to pull at heartstrings.

Instead, use Instagram Stories, Facebook Live Feeds and Facebook Videos to showcase your product or the benefits of what your product offers. Make it relevant to this festive season by featuring time-sensitive offers or discounts. Often, when a simple and authentic video is promoted on the right platform it can pay year-round dividends.


Nick Erskine-Shaw is co-founder and VP of strategic growth at 90 Seconds.

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