This year, strong storytelling and the spirit of folklore and legend resonated in campaigns across the region. It's also interesting to observe that these films seem to get longer by the year. Here are a few that stood out.
Director of 'The Farewell', Lulu Wang, was roped in as a visionary behind this beautiful film. The sprawling 10-minute ad—filmed on an iPhone 12 Pro Max—tells a story of a young girl who befriends a Nian, a mythical creature that's the subject of Chinese New Year legends. To boot, this version has a bit of a feminist bent to it. Everything—from the lighting to the writing—is practically pitch-perfect.
McCann Worldgroup Shanghai
Coca-Cola’s four-minute film by McCann Worldgroup Shanghai finds a trio of young people admitting that they truly appreciate the traditions of the season—in a way that they perhaps didn't before 2020 cancelled the holiday for most people. It’s a funny take on the more ‘annoying’ parts of holidays with extended family—a lack of personal space at home; having to run out for errands; and the long journey back home.
'Love Carries On'
This one, by FCB Kuala Lumpur, is a little sappy. A young girl who is diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy looks back at her relationship with her father, a personal hero of hers. In her college graduation speech, she attributes her dad for carrying her through the years—both literally and figuratively. At the end, it's revealed that the story is actually based on a real-life one, and we feel a little bad saying it was sappy in the first place.
Ensemble Worldwide strikes again with a charming animation for Petronas. This time, a film entitled 'Yi Qi' is a tribute to lion dancing, especially to the local flavour that Malaysia has introduced to the art form. The film indirectly alludes to the thud of the pandemic that landed last year, which 'drowned out' the music of the lion dancers. But it ends with a message of hope, courage and resilience.
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
We love 3D OOH displays, and this one on a 60.8 by 21.5-meter LED screen in Kuala Lumpur—of a bull smashing through Covid-19—is magnificent.
'Probably the most frustrating red packet'
With digital red packets becoming the norm in China, the snack brand decided to gamify the experience of receiving ang bao. Usually, one can redeem their digital ang bao with just one click, but Skittles developed an interactive campaign that required people to click 50,000 times to open their red packet, branded the "most annoying red packet in history". But the person to open the red packet with the fastest 50,000 clicks would get a prize of RMB49,999 (US$7,758).
'My grandmother's house'
A sequel to last year's 'His grandfather's road', this lighthearted film continues a story of family rivalry, but with a pandemic-era twist, as two carloads of family members race to be first to grandma's house—because gatherings of more than eight people are prohibited. Don't worry, there's plenty of time to plug Singtel's superior network quality while the group vies to impress the matron. We're a little concerned about the kissing-cousins subplot, however.
'Saving Chinese New YAY'
In Malaysia, because of the movement order to combat Covid cases, there will be minimal visiting for CNY this year. So the insurance brand set out to create a film that centres a grandmother who is disappointed that she will be unable to see her family for reunion dinner this year. But her savvy grandchildren drum up a plan to make sure their Ah Ma is dressed to the nines and well-equipped for a quiet celebration.
'KFC Goldspice for the win'
The Secret Little Agency
This beautiful 20-second animated ad tells the story of the zodiac race. But instead of the rat or the ox winning, the brand's new Goldspice chicken soars past the finish line. KFC Goldspice, in case you were wondering, is a blend of curry leaves, salted egg and sweet basil on the brand's hot and spicy chicken.
'Nian-tastic New Start'
Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s (TNB)
Yet again, another folklore about the Nian, albeit a little more slapstick this time. In this one, a group of villagers who need help defeating the Nian seeks help from a wise master who lives in a faraway cave. The master teaches them to scare off the monster with red colours, loud sounds and bright lights. To continue the 'audience journey', agency Entropia created an Instagram page for the master to relay general wisdom and good luck.
'A new awakening'
The fashion brand's 6.5-minute's brand film by BBH China stars Zhou Dongyu and Song Weilong, and eschews conventional CNY plotlines to instead offer a sensual, dreamlike rumination on renewal, which of course seems especially pertinent this year. It's a dreamy tribute to spring and the hope it may bring in yet another uncertain year. Our pal Ad Nut found a 60-second cutdown of the film far more effective.
'Time for joy, not pain'
Saatchi & Saatchi
In this spot for the GSK brand, it's clear that our grandparents may be unfit to continue traditions around the holidays, like making festive treats for instance. In this film, two young boys attempt to recreate their Ah Ma's famous kuih kapit or 'love letter' biscuits. Spoiler: they succeed. It's an endearing ad even if the headaches depicted when making festive biscuits are little too on-the-nose.
Campaign wishes you a wonderful break and a great start to the year of the ox!