Leading Chinese paper closes down

Leading Chinese paper closes down

The Australian, 10 February 2020.

By Heidi Han

The largest and longest-running Chinese language newspaper in Australia, Sing Tao Daily went into liquidation on Thursday, ending its 38-year legacy and adding uncertainty to the diversity and independence of the Chinese- language media in the country.

The sudden closure of the local publication that formed part of 16 overseas editions of Hong Kong’s second-largest Chinese-language newspaper comes as Australia’s largest non-English language community is overwhelmingly embracing digital media, including popular social media
platform WeChat.

With a circulation of more than 15,300 for weekdays and 25,000 for the Saturday paper nationally, according to Dentsu Aegis, Sing Tao had also been facing criticism globally for being influenced by the Chinese Communist Party.

An ASIC notice confirmed the liquidation of Sing Tao News papers Pty Ltd, while the global group described the move as part of its business adjustment to adapt to the operational environment, adding they also planned to boost other overseas businesses.

More than 20 staff in its only remaining office in Sydney were reportedly left in shock when they turned up to work late last week, with many concerned about their unpaid benefits as they were told the liquidation process would probably take up to three months.

“Sing Tao is not just any other publication; it’s an icon in the local multicultural media landscape,” said Thang Ngo, managing director of Australia’s leading multicultural marketing agency, Identity Communications.

“The loss of Sing Tao and other local Chinese-language publications will significantly reduce the diversity of media available to the community here.”

Mr Ngo said the number of paid Chinese publications was down to fewer than 35, from almost 90 a decade ago.

Sing Tao is the second Chinese newspaper in Australia that has stopped printing in six months. In September, another daily Chinese paper, Australian New Express Daily, owned by Chinese-Australian billionaire Chau Chak Wing, scrapped its print edition.

“The general Chinese media landscape is worse off because of the loss of the paper, but I’m not surprised,” said UTS professor of media and cultural studies, Wanning Sun.

“Sing Tao has undergone many changes in terms of style, readership and business model, and also in its editorial positions,” she added.

“There have been challenges for two reasons: the decline of Cantonese-speaking older generation of migrants in Australia; and, at the same time, the rapid growth of a Mandarin-speaking younger audience.”

A survey of 522 Mandarin-speaking Australians conducted by Professor Sun and her team found as many as 60 per cent of respondents identified WeChat as their primary source of news.

It also found that while most Chinese-Australian participants did not regularly access news and information from mainland Chinese legacy media, a “strikingly similar” proportion regularly accessed mainstream English-language media.

Why brands should embrace Lunar New Year.

Why brands should embrace Lunar New Year.

This Saturday marks an important date for a large portion of consumers in Australia and around the globe. January 25 is the start of the Lunar New Year, the biggest cultural occasion across Asia which is celebrated in China, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea and by their diaspora worldwide.

This year marks the Year of the Rat, and locally it will be celebrated by 1.5 million Asian-Australians. According to Nielsen, migrant Australians will account for $18.7bn (28 per cent) of the total FMCG retail channel in Australia by 2022.

Thang Ngo managing director of Identity Communications, Australia’s largest multicultural marketing agency advised brands to embrace this opportunity to connect with consumers.

“In the current challenging retail environment, retailers ignore this huge market at your own risk,” Thang Ngo, managing director of Identity Communications, told Inside FMCG.

“Lunar New Year is a huge commercial opportunity. Everyone wants to start the new year on a positive note. That means a spike in food and beverage for family celebration, new clothes for the family, cleaning the house and resolutions for a healthier lifestyle.”

According to Ngo, Telco’s have long recognised the commercial potential of this holiday, as it is a peak period for calling and messaging friends and family in Australia and ‘back home’.

Locally, Bunnings, David Jones, Myer and Woolworths are among the retailers running Lunar New Year promotions.

Woolworths has expanded its Asian product range in over 200 key stores with a focus on fresh produce, cooking essentials, gifting and snacking.

The snacks range includes Roasted Seaweed snacks, crispy Calbee Potato Chips, Kushi Fruity Jelly Drinks, Indomie Noodle Cups and Mango Candy which are among the fastest growing snacks in the Asian market.

“We’ve had such positive feedback from our customers of our Asian product range,” Woolworths head of International Foods, Serena Anson-Cope said.

“We’ve tried to provide customers with products they are familiar with from home, while ensuring we meet the freshness and quality expectations when it comes to local and international products available.”

AuMake, a retailer that targets daigou and more recently Asian tourists in Australia, kicked off a Chinese New Year promotion on Thursday.

“We are celebrating and saying thank you to our valued customers who shop with us over the Lunar New Year period with a Free Gift with any purchase,” a spokesperson for AuMake told Inside FMCG.

Those who make a purchases over $50 receive a free Herbsmart Rose Hip Milk or Thistle Milk valued at $58.

Haigh’s Chocolates is releasing its its Lunar New Year Range into all 20 of its stores for the first time this year to meet demand.

Marketing manager Fiona Krawczyk said the range proved very popular with consumers when they tested the market in selected stores nationally last year.

“It has been well received across all stores and online this year so it is set to become an annual calendar retail event for us given its popularity,” Krawczyk told Inside FMCG.

The range includes the iconic Haigh’s Milk Chocolate Murray Cod along with Milk and Dark Macadamias and premium Milk and Dark Chocolate Tablets in a traditional red and gold colour scheme.

In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus, and some brands are eager to cash in on this celebration.

Gucci has collaborated with Disney this year on their Year of the Rat collection, fronted by Mickey Mouse. Swatch is releasing limited edition rat watches in gold and red cheese casing, while Chopard is selling a Year of the Rat watch with the hefty price tag of $US24,600.

So while Australia Day may be front and centre this weekend, ask yourself if your brand could be using this opportunity to connect with Asian consumers.



Lunar New Year 2020. What. Why. How?

Lunar New Year 2020. What. Why. How?

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.

Don’t try to out-Chinese the Chinese…

Don’t try to out-Chinese the Chinese…

OPINION: Don’t try to out-Chinese the Chinese in your Lunar New Year advertising. You’ll lose.

Mumbrella, 20 January 2020.

By Thang Ngo

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.

Brands cashing in on Year of the Rat, 2020.

Brands cashing in on Year of the Rat, 2020.

 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?

Gucci Ace sneaker


Holy red and gold lanterns! For the man who has everything, how about a box of Davidoff Year of the Rat cigars? 

Davidoff Year of the Rat cigar

More affordable is a Swatch Rat watch that comes in a cheesy gold and red box (US$100).

Davidoff Year of the Rat cigar

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.

Thang Ngo is managing director or IDENTITY Communications,  Australia’s largest multicultural marketing agency.



SunRice and Identity Win NSW Premier’s Award for Multicultural Communications

SunRice and Identity Win NSW Premier’s Award for Multicultural Communications

Campaign Brief, 6 December 2019 

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