It’s also that time of the year when the other two thirds are largely oblivious of it......
It’s funny how Xmas is pushed down people’s throats globally to such an extent that America’s rabid right wing Fox News channel annually runs a pre-xmas feature suggesting that sinister forces wish to have a war on xmas (see various episodes of the Daily Show for some forcefully funny counter attacks to this!).
Yet a celebration which to Chinese and those Chinese influenced countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand,
Taiwan, Philippines to name but a few is often overlooked by the western world (except in China Towns of course!). There are exception of course with large parades from South Western taking place in San Francisco and other parades happening in Canada’s Vacouver for example.
Countries like Vietnam don’t even have xmas day as a national holiday whereas CNY is a week/two week long national celebration. Singapore being both western and Asian in its population make up and outlook celebrates both but with the extra day off for CNY, although many companies close for the entire week to celebrate this time of prosperity, lucky symbols and the colour red (it explains their love of Manchester United and Liverpool and the shunning of Newcastle United and Manchester City......).
Ironically America does the opposite to Vietnam, makes a big deal about xmas but doesn’t officially recognise CNY as a holiday despite having tens of millions of Chinese or Asian residents. The fact that China owns half of American asets (and the Middle East the other half….) makes it even more ironic. Surely it’s time to introduce a CNY holiday into American society, quickly followed by Ramadan I would suggest……watch Fox News go ballistic at the very thought!
This year is the year is the Year of the Snake, a come down from the acclaimed Year of the Dragon that we have just enjoyed (which is the most auspicious and lucky of all the Chinese years). The Snake offers more unpredictable times so economies beware!
Nevertheless marketers are using the celebration to market their brands for people to enjoy over the traditional reunion dinners and family get-togethers and other brands are just using the CNY association for that emotional connection to sell more product, no matter what the connection. I would like to say that it's an opportunity for great creativity and imagination but sadly it's the opposite...the Snake would be booing let alone hissing....
Subway are piling in with a scratch card promotion giving away 200,000 prizes but funnily enough no snakes are mentioned…maybe the connection between snakes and sandwiches doesn’t quite work! Although that doesn’t appear to have stopped either Starbucks who have created a special CNY giftcard as well as themed drinks and Gloria Jeans who have also created various themed drinks, although what praline has to do with snakes is beyond me!
Even brands like Playstation are jumping on the bandwagon and creating special bundles giving away money and snake t-shirts though no snake themed games…
Carlsberg have focused on their core older audience by giving away $1m of prizes including lots of gold the lucky number $888 in cash. Bizarrely the auspicious Carlsberg packaging design doesn’t include snakes just trees…I suppose they’re thinking that’s where snakes may live?! Apparently it’s the tree of abundance inspired by the money tree plant…..it’s all about wealth anyway.
Tiger Beer have made their traditionally terrible CNY advert which unfortunately I have had to endure as they sponsor the English Premier League on Singtel here in Singapore! They are also running various buy and win promotions that even involve winning a God of Fortune!
Even brands like Guinness are trying to get in on the act and that's just wrong surely! If ever there was a brand 100% associated with another festival celebrated mostly in the Werstern world it's Guiness. St Patricks Day is a national celebration in the US where the entire population tries to pretend they are Irish.....what they are doing connecting with CNY is beyond me....oh sales of course! DOH!
The banks are also desperately associating themselves with the Lunar New Year as the celebration is all about wealth and prosperity as well as the lucky colour red so they are looking to take full advantage of the way people are thinking about money and the future at this special celebratory time. Banks like ANZ and HSBC are creating special accounts and promotions linked with the number 8.
Every brand tries to connect themselves with CNY somehow, in Vietnam P&G are launching a campaign to tie in the holidays with a “give mum a hand” marketing campaign…no mention of wealth, money, trees or snakes! Any connection will do!