It’s the first day of the Lunar Calendar. Commonly known as Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year and Spring Festival. It’s celebrated in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea and their diaspora communities around the world.
The Rat is cunning. To determine the order of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, the Jade Emperor asked them to race. The Rat became the first animal in the zodiac by tricking the Ox into giving it a ride. Just as they arrive at the finish line, Rat jumped off and got there first.
Read all about it in IDENTITY Communication’s Lunar New Year 2020 One Pager, below.
Wishing you all the best for the new Year of the Rat.
Let’s play a drinking game. Scull a shot glass of Moutai every time you see any of these Chinese icons used in Chinese New Year advertising this year: red, gold, 8, red packet, lanterns, and paper-cut rat.
We’re in for a merry time. Adidas is banging its gong (literally) with a spectacular TVC in China that crams every Chinese symbol into a one-minute spot: red ribbons, gold Adidas logo, dancing Chinese maidens, folding fans, wooden lattice doors and kung fu moves. So what’s wrong with using these icons? Nothing. And everything.
For a start, it’s not just a festival in China. The first day of the lunar calendar is also celebrated in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea and their diaspora communities around the world.
In Australia, it’s celebrated by 1.5m migrants from these Asian countries. Three of the top four languages spoken in Australia are Asian: Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese. And the number of Mandarin speakers in Australia increased by 170% in the decade between the 2006 and 2016 censuses.
Nielsen’s 2017 Ethnic-Australian Consumer Report found migrant-Australian FMCG [fast moving consumer goods] expenditure is growing at a faster rate than Australian-born. The report predicts that, by 2022, migrant-Australians’ spend will grow at a faster rate than their Australian-born counterparts, accounting for over $4.4bn in incremental revenue.
This will result in the migrant-Australian shopper contributing a total of $18.7bn (or 28%) of the total FMCG retail channel. The research found grocery spend for migrant-Australians was growing at a rate 1.8 times faster than all Australians; while Asian-Australians’ spend is growing 4.7 times faster than average.
No wonder marketers are increasingly seeing the commercial value of Lunar New Year.
But putting that aside, what’s wrong with using Asian cultural icons? As Alain de Botton said, “The problem with clichés is not that they contain false ideas, but rather that they are superficial articulations of very good ones.”
Even primary school children know these icons are associated with Lunar New Year. Ironically, overusing these symbols shows brands know less about their target audience, not more. Think of it as plastering all your Christmas retail ads in green with Christmas trees and baubles.
Simply: Don’t try to out-Chinese the Chinese. From a branding perspective, an overwhelming number of ads in red and gold are ineffective, because they are lost in a sea of same-same. In the end, nothing stands out, and it’s all generic in the audience’s mind.
Apple takes a different route. Its campaign in China continues the theme of telling poignant stories about contemporary China. This year, it’s generational differences in attitudes about a traditional family – the protagonist is a single mother. It’s an engrossing eight-minute story with a cinematic feel, shot on an iPhone.
Apple has put its product front and centre in the right context. And it doesn’t need the usual Lunar New Year props to do it.
Research has found that the use of strong stereotypes can be polarising. In an Australian neuroscience study, Chinese viewers responded negatively when presented with a TV commercial depicting an Asian stereotype.
So, using these stereotypes is probably not the best way to connect with a valuable and growing audience.
To engage effectively, go beyond census stats and two-dimensional icons. A Chinese-Australian has different aspirations than someone living in China. While they are proud of their Chinese culture, they are also looking to be successful and want to feel welcomed in their new homeland.
Brands need to connect with Asian audiences by going to them. Consider WeChat, Weibo, Youku and other digital platforms, along with out of home formats in suburbs with a high concentration of your target audience. Activate at New Year festivals.
Avoid stereotypes. Overusing cultural symbols risks showing you lack deeper audience insight. Remember the audience is looking forward to a successful life in Australia as well as being proud of their original homeland. Brands should demonstrate they understand this aspiration.
You should also not discard your corporate identity or brand colours for red and gold. Be confident in showing how your brand helps this audience celebrate.
This links to inclusivity. It’s not just Chinese audiences who celebrate. Your audience is broader, including Vietnamese and Korean communities.
And, finally, recognise that your staff may be celebrating, perhaps through internal comms and other owned channels.
The Year of the Rat starts on Saturday, 25 January. The rat is cunning. To determine the order of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, the Jade Emperor asked them to race. The rat became the first animal in the zodiac by tricking the ox into giving it a ride. Just as they arrive at the finish line, the rat jumped off and got there first.
Brands need to think more like the rat, and rely less on tired and ineffective stereotypes to reach Asian audiences.
Thang Ngo is managing director of IDENTITY Communications, Australia’s largest multicultural marketing agency and an IPG Mediabrands company.
IDENTITY Communications previews some limited edition Year of the Rat goodies that could be yours in 2020.
The global luxury-goods market will grow to US$386 billion by 2025 and Chinese consumers will account for 44 percent of that market. It’s no wonder Western brands are looking to leverage every cultural occassion to turn them into profit.
There is no bigger cultural occassion for Chinese than their new year. A week long public holiday, sparking the world’s biggest human migration with over 3 billion trips taken in China. Last year, some 413 million people travelled by rail and 73 million passengers travelled by air.
Source: The Guardian
The year of the rat starts on 25 January 2020.
The rat is a cunning creature. To determine the order of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, the Jade Emperor asked them to race. The Rat became the first animal in the zodiac by tricking the Ox into giving it a ride. Just as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped off and crossed first.
Rats are seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. Because of their reproduction rate, it’s a good year to pray for children.
But back to commerce. To celebrate the coming Year of the Rat, Western brands are releasing themed merchandise – some aren’t cheap.
This cool Chopard watch will set you back $US24,600. “Chopard is once again honouring Asian traditions by calling on the ancestral Japanese art of Urushi to create the dial of the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat timepiece. This work of art highlights the theme of the next zodiac sign in the traditional Chinese calendar: the Rat, renowned for its intelligence and perspicacity. Each of the watches in this refined and powerfully symbolic 88-piece limited edition crafted in 18k rose gold is powered by an ultra-thin movement produced in the Chopard Manufacture workshops: the L.U.C 96.17-L caliber”, according to their website.
Gucci collaborated with Disney for their Year of the Rat collection, headlined by Mickey Mouse. The Disney x Gucci GG Marmont medium shoulder bag could be yours for $US2,980.
These uber cool Gucci x Disney kickers can be had for a relatively more modest AU$1,370. Well, what are you waiting for?
Holy red and gold lanterns! For the man who has everything, how about a box of Davidoff Year of the Rat cigars?
More affordable is a Swatch Rat watch that comes in a cheesy gold and red box (US$100).
While the Chinese market has been lucrative for many brands, recent times have seen some notable missteps, ranging from alleged cultural insensitivity (Dolce & Gabbana) to offending China’s sovereignty, particularly recognition of Taiwan (Versace, Swarovski, Coach, Calvin Klein, Audi, Marriott Hotels, Qantas, Air France, British Airways) and of course, being seen as supporting the current the Hong Kong protests (Tiffany & Co, NBA).
Lots of opportunties in China and some cultural pitfalls.
SunRice and Identity Communications, the multicultural communications division of IPG Mediabrands, have won the Business Campaign of the Year at the 2019 NSW Premier’s Multicultural Communications Awards presented in Sydney this week.
The NSW Premier’s Multicultural Communications Awards (PMCAs) recognise excellence in the multicultural media and marketing industry. The PMCAs acknowledge the valuable contribution multicultural media and marketing plays in our society by helping people connect to their culture, identity and language. The awards also recognise the important roles played by journalists, editors and publishers in print, radio, television and digital media.
The campaign challenged stereotypes because it didn’t feature the usual cultural icons of red, gold and ‘8’. Instead, SunRice the Rice Breaker, depicted a Chinese-Australian family sharing a meal with their local Australian neighbours. Inclusion was a key message – as a rice brand that is universally appealing, SunRice is able to connect people of different cultures over great food.
The Rice Breaker resonated with migrant audience because it acknowledged that they also want to be successful in Australia and engage with the community – 66% of people who saw the creative said they would consider SunRice for their next rice purchase; it drove an 86% increase in SunRice followers on WeChat. SunRice also recorded a significant uplift in orders from retail partners.
Says Andrew Jeffrey, head of marketing, SunRice: “SunRice is thrilled our campaign has been recognised with this award. The outstanding results demonstrate the crucial importance of audience insights in building authentic engagement with our Asian-Australian customers. The audience insight that Identity Communications brought to the table was invaluable.”
Says Thang Ngo, managing director, Identity Communication: “From day one, SunRice told us they wanted to build an authentic connection with Australia’s Asian community. The client recognised the importance of developing a robust strategy and bespoke creative.”
Client: SunRice Head of Marketing & Insights: Andrew Jeffrey Senior Marketing Manager: Shannon Cumberlidge Brand Manager: Peta Thomas, Jeddah Ryan
Agency: Identity Communications Managing Director: Thang Ngo Creative Director: Yasmin Quemard Art Director: Rachel Liang Writers: Yasmin Quemard, Brenda Leung and Sean Zhu Translation Management: Brenda Leung, Albert Han Designer: Rachel Liang Head of Strategy: Thang Ngo Client Services Director: Angelica Naranjo Production Coordinator: Murray Wallace Lead Developer: Dipak Sadaula Production Company: Clockwork Film Media: Havas Media
SunRice and Identity, a division of IPG Mediabrands, have won the Business Campaign of the Year at the 2019 NSW Premier’s Multicultural Communications Awards.
The campaign challenged stereotypes because it didn’t feature the usual cultural icons of red, gold and ‘8’.
Instead, SunRice the Rice Breaker, depicted a Chinese-Australian family sharing a meal with their local Australian neighbours.
Inclusion was a key message – as a rice brand that is universally appealing, SunRice is able to connect people of different cultures over great food.
“SunRice is thrilled our campaign has been recognised with this award,” says Andrew Jeffrey, SunRice head of marketing.
“The outstanding results demonstrate the crucial importance of audience insights in building authentic engagement with our Asian-Australian customers. The audience insight that Identity Communications brought to the table was invaluable.”
Thang Ngo, managing director at Identity: “From day one, SunRice told us they wanted to build an authentic connection with Australia’s Asian community. The client recognised the importance of developing a robust strategy and bespoke creative.”
Other winning marketing campaigns at the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Communications Awards:
Agency Campaign of the Year: Cultural Perspectives – Your Vote Will Help Shape Australia
Voting is a right for all Australians but enrolling, assessing candidates and casting a ballot is a challenge for people with low English language-speaking proficiency. The Your Vote Will Help Shape Australia campaign by Cultural Perspectives aimed to make voting easier and support increased participation by sharing voting information in 30 different languages across print, radio, and online.
AFL NSW/ACT Community Campaign of the Year – Hindu Council of Australia – Deepavali Fair Aiming to increase Deepavali Fair attendance by 10% to 30,000, the Hindu Council advertised on Hindi satellite television channels, in Indian language newspapers, via social media and through flyers and banners around local schools and major intersections. As well as meeting attendance targets, the Council successfully increased sponsorship revenue by 15%.
Other winners of the 2019 Premier’s Multicultural Communications Awards:
Best Audio Report: Manpreet Kaur Singh, Shamsher Kainth, Avneet Arora and Maya Jamieson – SBS Punjabi Best Audio-Visual Report: Andrea Booth – NITV, The Point Best Print Report: Zia Ahmad – AMUST Young Journalist of the Year: Xinrui (Rena) Li – Sydney Today Best Use of Digital or Social Media: Sirine Demachkie and Kinderling Kids Radio – Mother Tongue Public Interest Award: Avani Dias – triple j Hack Alan Knight Student Award: Nadine Silva Publication of the Year: AMUST Lifetime Achievement Award: Antoine Kazzi OAM – El Telegraph