The Lunar New Year is celebrated by almost 1.5 million people in Australia. IDENTITY Communications, Australia’s largest multicultural marketing agency has 5 tips for marketers looking to cash in.
The Year of the Pig starts on Tuesday, 5 February 2019. Get ready for a sea of red and gold, paper cut pig icons, red packets, dragons, and gratuitous use of ‘8’ and ‘luck’ as marketers jostle for the lucrative Asian dollar. Examples of brands cashing in from last year include Chobani (above) and ANZ (below).
What’s wrong with red and gold?
It wouldn’t be in the festive spirit to deride these attempts as bad example of multicultural marketing. Overwhelmingly, ‘red and gold’ has been the approach of marketers and their multicultural agencies over the years. So basically everyone had done it to some degree.
It isn’t the wrong thing to do, but there are drawbacks, which has been best articulated by Alain de Botton.
“The problem with cliches is not that they contain false ideas, but rather that they are superficial articulations of very good ones” Alain de Botton.
5 ways to avoid being superficial in Chinese New Year marketing.
1. Demonstrate cultural understanding rather repeat cliches
Coca-Cola’s approach in 2017 was to put family reunion front and centre rather than default to the road often travelled of new year cliches. Apart from red, which is Coke’s corporate colour, the usual festive cliches have been dialed down.
2. Be confident to stand out
Can a brand win the hearts and minds (and wallets) of their customers without resorting to cliches or even promoting their brand. Against the sea of red and gold, Pokka, Singapore’s number one ready to drink tea beverage brand takes us back to what’s important during the new year, without gratuitous product placement.
3. Inject your brand into the Chinese New Year season
Apple highlights their phone’s product benefits in Chinese New Year commercials. Three Minutes, a Chinese New Year short film was shot on an iPhone X by director, Peter Chan. The tactic showcases iPhone X’s high quality video capabilities via Chinese New Year.
Vodafone’s unlimited calls to China for Chinese New Year campaign compared the ‘unlimited’ promotion feature with the seemingly unending Great Wall of China.
Disclosure: I worked on this Vodafone campaign at a previous multicultural marketing agency.
4. Don’t try to out-Chinese the Chinese
In all of the examples above, the brands weren’t trying to dial up cliches to demonstrate understanding. If you’re marketing to Australian-Chinese, it’s also important to recognise these migrants have come to Australia for a better life. Demonstrating this might take you further than repeating cliches.
Introducing the Wang family. We wanted to show a more authentic Asian-Aust experience, less cliches of red, gold, dragon, 888. Loved that our client supports it #multicultural #marketing #eatmoresunrice pic.twitter.com/oNpRLHmu9m— Thang Ngo (@ThangNgo) August 30, 2018
While not a Chinese New Year campaign, IDENTITY’s TVC for client, SunRice reflects the the migrant experience – what could be a more uniquely Australian-Chinese experience than having your Australian neighbours over for dinner for the first time? SunRice has effectively claimed the territory of bringing their customers the best of both worlds, a point of difference their competitors can’t compete with.
5. Be inclusive
The Lunar New Year is celebrated by those in China as well as Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam and Korea. The festive season is about reunion and inclusiveness, so marketers should also remember to include all cultures celebrating the Lunar New Year.
Brand should use the inclusive term of ‘Lunar New Year’ rather than making it just about China.
Vietnamese celebrate this festival also, they call it ‘Tet’. The commercial above by food brand Knorr for Tet in 2017 appeals to parents who yearn for their children to celebrate tradition in the face of encroaching Western culture. When their children asks for Pizza to celebrate the New Year, mum cleverly gets the family cooking banh chung, a traditional Tet food.