CNY 2019 Brand Campaigns: The hits and the misses

One of China’s longest holidays—Spring Festival—has come to an end as we welcome in the Lunar New Year of 2019. Brands celebrated this Year of the Pig with festive and aptly themed collections and campaigns. Some were well-received—and some were not.

With the rise of Chinese national pride, people have been both outraged and delighted by brand efforts to capture Chinese culture in their Spring Festival campaigns. We’ve witnessed the uproar as a result of distasteful and/or tone-deaf advertisements. We’ve also seen the tremendous support for brands that hit the mark.

With digitally savvy Chinese millennials as the target audience for most brands, every marketing move needs to be carefully considered, as its results can be extremely amplified. The key takeaway? A heightened sensitivity in respecting the Chinese culture will always be important regardless of occasion.

Here, we share with you 3 stand-out brand campaigns for Chinese New Year 2019—2 hits and 1 miss!

The Hits

Gucci

Gucci launched yet another well-received Chinese New Year collection, following its success in previous years. For the Year of the Pig, Gucci featured Disney’s ‘Three Little Pigs’, along with other pig motifs within its CNY 2019 collection.

In a WeChat post on 10 January, Gucci welcomed its Pig Family, introducing the array of pig-featured collections. The efforts did not stop there.

Source: Gucci

 

Source: Gucci

A complementary WeChat Mini Program allows users to download Gucci’s piggy gifs, decorate their desired pictures with Gucci’s piggy stickers, and even includes a section to download background images.

Source: Gucci’s WeChat Mini Program

They also invited Chinese celebrities, such as singer-actor Luhan (鹿晗), actress Nini (倪妮), singer-actress Chris Lee (李宁春), and singer Zhu Zhengting (朱正廷), to share short videos with piggy gifs to their followers. This was executed across different platforms, like Douyin (Tiktok) and Weibo. As a result, many users took to social media to post their own interpretations of Gucci’s piggy dance gifs.

Source: Luhan (鹿晗) on Douyin

Source: Gucci’s official Weibo page

Maybelline

Mahjong, a famous Chinese tile-based game, is especially popular during Chinese New Year for friends and family to play and gather. For Maybelline’s limited-edition collection of cosmetics, ‘Red On Fire’, the brand aptly tied in mahjong and launched it during Chinese New Year.

The collection features an exquisite black-and-red themed mahjong set, with Maybelline’s sleek ‘M’ logo on the back of each tile. Cased in a red mahjong box stamped with a pig’s silhouette, the exclusive cosmetics collection is housed in the centre of the case.

Source:Xiao Hong Shu—Lady Melody

The collection was so well-received that consumers clamored to get their hands on Maybelline’s exclusive mahjong set and raved about how cool Maybelline is for coming up with this idea.

Source: Xiao Hong Shu “Maybelline Mahjong” Search

The Miss

While there are success stories for some brands that connected well with the Chinese this Lunar New Year, there are a minority that went off course with their creativity.

We all have something to learn from the huge social media saga between Dolce & Gabbana and Chinese consumers over a flop ad campaign back in December 2018.

In summary, Dolce & Gabbana released a tone-deaf advertisement that included Chinese stereotypes and mocked the use of chopsticks. Chinese people were so outraged that Dolce & Gabbana was forced to pull the advertisements less than 24 hours after launch and cancel its 21 November fashion show in Shanghai, while Alibaba, JD.com, and Lane Crawford all stopped the sale of D&G products.

Such a gaffe towards one of the largest consumer markets is irreversibly damaging for brand value and consumer trust.

Source: Dolce & Gabbana

When it comes to cultural insensitivity, especially after the D&G nightmare, we were inclined to assume that brands would be more tactful with their creatives. However, Burberry was not one of those brands.

Burberry

The UK luxury giant launched a Lunar New Year campaign that showed a family who appeared to be unhappy, and it gave a rather “creepy” feeling, as expressed by some social media users in China.

Source: Burberry

Of course, there were others who did not have any prejudice against the concept of the campaign and commented about it embracing a Chinese tradition, which is taking family photos during the Lunar New Year Festival.

While Burberry did not get a D&G-like backlash with this campaign from the Chinese social sphere, it is important that western brands launch their campaigns with sensitivity to culture, especially if they wish to be part of China’s luxury playing field.

To the Chinese, Lunar New Year is the most important festival of the year as it marks a fresh start with new beginnings. It is a joyous period for families to get together and celebrate. It is also a time where brands can truly connect with Chinese consumers—if done right.

Do you need help connecting with Chinese consumers in a culturally sensitive manner? Get in touch with us to learn more.

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