Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Mar 5, 2015

CNY recap: Paperless hongbaos, paper cuts with French twist, and more

GREATER CHINA - Judging from the number of sheep-like noises we made when we came across cool bits of marketing throughout the 15-day Chinese New Year celebration (which culminates today in the annual Lantern Festival ‘元宵节'), there were quite a few newsworthy and significant things to bleat about. Here's a few of our favourites.

CNY recap: Paperless hongbaos, paper cuts with French twist, and more

The sheer scale of virtual red envelopes (红包) sent between the Chinese was staggering to say the least: US$642 million worth of 'hongbao' cash through Alibaba's Alipay and more than US$1 billion via Tencent's WeChat. WeChat's amount was bolstered by a single CCTV live-lottery campaign during its annual Spring Gala, giving away US$80 million from corporate sponsors.

Here's the lowdown: the money, deposited into mobile payment accounts, represents the battle for share of the electronic-wallet market in China. And it's getting more gripping to see how monetary transactions are socialised, digitised and gamified—all of which is subverting the traditional banking model.

Lancome (see below) wished passengers at Shanghai’s Xujiahui and Nanjing’s Xinjiekou stations a happy ‘young’ year. Quite apt, since its campaign, led by Kinetic, promoted the brand's anti-aging concentrate, Advanced Genifique. The campaign included pretty paper cuts of the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower, which never, ever get too old and useless, at least not in the eyes of the French tourism board.


Celebrations are always typified by overindulgence and waste. To reduce the amount of wrapping paper used for Chinese New Year gifts, Sun Hung Kai’s East Point City and Saatchi & Saatchi Hong Kong placed 'The Instant Newspaper Recycler' booth in the mall lobby. Watch what pops out in a matter of 30 seconds.


From getting superstars to be their true selves in front of the camera to crowdsourcing video submissions for the grand mission of a final simulcast in New York's Times Square, we saw some breakthroughs in PepsiCo's 'Bring Happiness Home' campaign this year. 


Caterpillar trekked all the way to Yuhu Village in Yunnan province to make the prettiest ad for construction equipment ever, and our Ad Nut tried to tag along. As our Campaign US colleagues explain, there's more where this came from at the brand's #builtforit website by Ogilvy & Mather New York. 


Coca-Cola China reintroduced two clay-doll characters, A Fu (阿福) and A Jiao (阿娇), originally created by McCann in 2001. And in an intentional move reminiscent of how Coke refashioned Santa Claus in the 1920s, the cherubic figures are here to stay as long-term creative assets.


Ironically, it takes a foreign agency Fred & Farid Group to create an insightful public service ad for CCTV to stem the gradual erosion of China's traditional culture. The theme is closely related to every Chinese: your name. Just two or three pictograms reflect family lineage, national identity, poetry, and even astronomy and geography.


It was a tasty bacon-and-egg welcome back from CNY feasting (and a stark reminder to get back to reality to work hard and make more money) from McDonald's in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Tapping into the Chinese's hyper-ambition of wanting to make it big in life, with 'carpe diem' starting from breakfast, is clever.


Shear wool off animated sheep in this SapientNitro game to win virtual prizes made of (virtual) wool—players in China stand to win physical prizes.


But don't take winning or losing too seriously, lest you end up bidding a ridiculous amount to be blessed by the Gods by being the absolutely first to burn an incense stick. Auspiciousness was worth RMB21,501 to the top bidder of the Taobao auction hosted by Zhejiang’s Huilong temple


Finally, from Google's Doodle today: happy Lantern Festival!


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