2024 is already a mixed bag of fortunes. Job losses and layoffs have become the order of the day, and with economic upheavals, there's a significant shift in consumer priorities too. This is particularly true in mainland China, where people have an elevated cultural confidence, as evidenced by the guochao trend.
Given this shift, the holiday, which has become an annual battleground for brands, is both a challenge and an opportunity to reset. In order to resonate, brands must step beyond incorporating red and zodiac signs in their campaigns to truly
The Lunar New Year is a significant holiday in many East Asian cultures and an annual battleground for brands to tap into the deep-rooted sentiments of hope, renewal, and prosperity that define this auspicious time.
'Huat is in the Air'
Brand: DBS Bank
Agency: The Secret Little Agency
DBS' limited-edition Huat Eau De Parfum Lunar New Year collaboration with The Secret Little Agency (TSLA) and Oo La Lab is inspired by the distinct aroma of freshly-minted banknotes and the festive ambience of red packets. Now you can take a whiff of prosperity...literally. Crafted with aldehydes, ink, and soft musk, the scent embodies the essence of new wealth and all-things festive. In addition to the film, social and static assets, DBS is also distributing 2,500 bottles of this unique perfume to its customers, complementing its well-loved QR Ang Bao gifting feature. Paired with a slot-in design mimicking the traditional Ang Bao experience, givers can now elevate the digital gifting ritual.
Nicholas Ye and Mavis Neo, co-chief creative officers at TSLA said of the creative idea: "Fragrance plays a powerful role in storytelling and creating memorable experiences. In an era where digital gifting is on the rise, the Huat Eau De Parfum introduces a novel sensory layer to the tradition, making it more enjoyable and engaging."
Agency: Grey Singapore
This heartfelt film throws light on the unique celebrations of those with hearing impairments. The Lunar New Year is one of the most vibrant, loud, and jovial events, and it can get overwhelmingly silent for those with hearing issues. The film, starring Lim Bee Chin in the lead and co-directed by Barney Chua and Pan Wai Ling, created in association with Grey Singapore and Mojo Films, digs into the deaf communities' perspective in a peaceful setting, emphasising the critical role of sign language in overcoming silence for them. If you have three and a half minutes to spare, watch this emotional rollercoaster, and you'll come out with an intense dose of empathy, learning and insights.
Graham Drew, CCO of Grey Singapore, says, “According to scientific research, non-verbal communication accounts for 70-80% of our daily interactions. We don’t realise, but we all speak in ‘signs’ daily, suggesting that learning sign language may be easier than we think." It’s time, he adds, we recognise and embrace this natural aptitude to foster a more inclusive society for the deaf community.
Brand: RHB Bank
Agency: FCB Shout
RHB Bank's campaigns are known to be tear-jerkers and champions of inclusivity. It's the overarching theme again this Lunar New Year. Conceived and created by creative partner FCB SHOUT, the film tells the life story of Beatrice Leong, an autistic rights activist and filmmaker who only found out she is autistic when she was in her 30s.
Titled ‘Acceptance,’ the film is directed and narrated by Leong herself and takes a unique approach. Shot entirely from a first-person perspective, it immerses viewers in her world, allowing them to understand how an autistic person processes their surroundings. It’s a celebration of authenticity, encouraging Leong to step into the spotlight after a lifetime of hiding.
Tjer, head of creative at FCB Shout highlights, “It was really exciting to produce a film that was shot from a first person’s POV, but we did it not just because we wanted to do something different; there’s actually a deeper meaning behind the technique. Beatrice spent much of her life hiding and running away from the world. That inspired us to tell her story without actually showing who she really is, right until the very end.”
Brand: BMW China
Agency TBWA Juice Beijing
BMW China has launched a captivating 14-minute mockumentary titled “Project Jupiter” for Lunar New Year 2024. In this light-hearted film, BMW playfully tackles ancient superstitions associated with the festivities. The focus is on “Ben Ming Nian”, one’s lunar zodiac year, which occurs every 12 years and is believed to bring uncertainty according to Chinese tradition. Born in 1916 (the Year of the Dragon), BMW boldly embraces this superstition by attempting to dispel the mystery. Their mission, led by four engineers and scientists, aims to banish uncertainty forever through the Red Luck Theory. The film humorously portrays their efforts to avoid Jupiter’s influence and create a universe of good fortune for all, regardless of their zodiac signature. Campaign has written a detailed review of the work, you must look up here.
Celebrating Tet in Vietnam
Unilever’s laundry detergent brand OMO has partnered with agency MullenLowe Mishra to celebrate this year’s Tet via this new music video that encourages consumers to keep their resilience and hope high despite a tough year. The campaign tells the story of “getting dirty and giving hope” through a moving song featuring renowned Vietnamese singer Hòa Minzy. As the economic impact of the recession leads to several macro issues, layoffs, and tightened daily spending, many Vietnamese people are far from home this Tet, and OMO aims to bring new hope and vitality during this season. The work is a beautiful reminder to not give up—and where there is hard work (and dirt), there is hope. This 5-minute film told by two children is on the top trending music charts on YouTube Vietnam and is totally worth your time.
'Your Father's Ad'
Brand: Time Internet
Everything you want in a Chinese New Year ad, drama, humour, originality, sentiment—is all packed in this work. The ad follows a conversation of an Indian family whose daughter questions their culture as they should have all been Chinese. The conversation takes the audience on a journey that showcases the interests of each family member, allowing them to be who they want, what they want, and when they want, like it’s their dad's company.
A witty and sharp take on “Eh, you think this is your father’s company ah?”, the campaign promotes Time's customizable internet plans that can actually make life feel like it's your father’s company while showcasing the diversity of cultures in Malaysia.
Agency: TBWA MediaArts
Titled ‘Little Garlic,’ Apple's much-awaited Lunar New Year film is directed by the acclaimed Marc Webb and features a stellar cast, including Chinese star Fan Wei. The 15-minute film, created by TBWA Media Arts Lab Shanghai, delves into the universal theme of overcoming insecurity, particularly resonating with Gen Z in China.
The film is centered around a young girl’s relationship with her grandfather. The girl, who has shapeshifting abilities, changes her appearance constantly after getting bullied by her schoolmates, even as her grandfather warns that it might harm her. She eventually stops after her grandfather convinces her to be herself. As she gets older and leaves in search of work in Shanghai, multiple setbacks cause her to lose confidence in her abilities and looks. She starts shapeshifting again into different personalities to gain attention and love before realising she has lost her original look after going too far.
The campaign underscores Apple's commitment to cultural relevance and technological prowess, showcasing the iPhone's advanced features, such as five-times optical zoom, Action mode, and Cinematic mode. You can read an in-depth review here.
(More to come.)