Chris Reed
Feb 10, 2015

CNY of the sheep (or is it goat or um, ram?) inspires brands to follow each other

I love Chinese New Year (CNY). Every year is different, a different animal for marketers to wrestle with. This Lunar New Year is the Year of the Goat. Although some say it’s the Year of the Sheep as apparently they are the same in Chinese. Some even say the Ram, which ( guess is in between the two.

CNY of the sheep (or is it goat or um, ram?) inspires brands to follow each other

Most brands go with the usual prosperity, abundance, happiness, reunion and family positioning. I’ve been in Singapore 6 years now and am  now seeing the same creative every year just the animal changes. Some sectors even appear to be using the same cast, set and theme.

McDonalds have bought the domain to emphasie the importance of their famous Prosperity Burger.  Wisely they haven’t allowed this to be crowd controlled just crowdsourced (see multiple examples of where McDonalds did the former and regretted it on social media).  That does though make for some very dull “what makes me happy” comments.

Very wisely McDonalds didn’t use any goats (or sheep or ram) in their marketing visuals. Surely a missed opportunity for a lamb burger?


Tiger Beer always have a problem in every year apart from the Year of The Tiger. Theycan hardly have a goat/sheep/ram and Tiger on their creative together. They therefore usually just revert back to the tried and tested Tiger, he just looks more golden than usual to symbol prosperity.

Coca-Cola has created the equivalent of what it hopes will be Santa Claus for CNY. Two dolls, called A Fo and A Jiao originally created in 2001 are making a comeback and Coke says that they will be with us for a while.  Neither would be out of place in a McDonalds promotion.


In some regions like Taiwan they have also created eight special can designs and their advertising appears to be centred around giving them to people. Gold bar? No I’ll have a Coke please.


Regional soft drinks company F&N have done a virtually identical advert for their soft drinks to Coke’s.


Gardens by the Bay, Singapore’s iconic and stunning garden tourist attraction, is getting very good at celebrating all the year’s festivals. We had snow (yes snow) in the Singapore tropics for Christmas and now we have plants and designs inspired by Chinese landscapes for CNY. "Asian Tales", a floral showcase that draws inspiration from scenic landscapes of mountains and valleys depicted in Chinese brush paintings is the focus at the Gardens.


One of the most shared CNY ads of last year was Maxim’s spot – and everybody apart from me apparently remembers the cute girl in red with her big eyes and “doll-like” face.  The fast-food chain has put on another slightly older pretty face to represent a deeper brand value – serving (no I don’t get that either). At least they’re not giving people soft drinks. Oh wait, they are.

Even Barbie, not to be confused with the Maxim girl, is celebrating CNY.
With the strapline “Oh My Goat” (sigh) Lazada, Singapore’s equivalent to Amazon have launched a CNY sale. How anyone can tell a sale in Singapore is beyond me. Everything is permanently on sale as it’s the only way anyone buys anything other than cars and condos which are never on sale.

Never one to not open a store in any mall in Asia H&M would not miss the chance to create special collections for CNY. They have done so with a celebrity Chinese couple Zhou Xun and Archie Kao who are the stars of the campaign dressed in their favourite festive looks that will be specially released for CNY. No doubt all the young Chinese will be dressed in these outfits for the festival.

Oreo have created a very conservative and very boring campaign for mainland China.

Back to the soft drinks again...the Singapore Nescafe advert looks very much like the Coca Cola and F&N ones...are they all using the same agency with the same unoriginal ideas for CNY? To be fair to Nescafe their Creating Friendships campaign started in 2014 when the star of the advert Ben went around the neighbourhoods of Singapore’s attempting to break the ice with a cup of coffee (no pun intended).


Ironically I have just come back from a trip to China, Guangzhou and Shanghai, and there was zero marketing for CNY going on. There is more in Singapore than there was there. I assume it will all come in big burst before the CNY week itself. Stock up on those soft drinks.

Gong xi fa cai!


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