IPG’s Identity Breaks Stereotypes With SunRice Chinese New Year Campaign

IPG’s Identity Breaks Stereotypes With SunRice Chinese New Year Campaign

B&T Magazine, 4 February 2019

One of Australia’s most successful food companies, SunRice, is discarding the usual cultural clichés this Chinese New Year for a more authentic portrayal of an Asian-Australian family.

SunRice is launching a national campaign depicting a new-migrant experience – hosting their Australian neighbours for dinner for the first time.

The initial dinner table awkwardness is immediately overcome when a steaming bowl of SunRice arrives, proving that SunRice is the ideal cultural ‘rice breaker’.

SunRice head of marketing Andrew Jeffrey said: “Chinese New Year is the biggest cultural occasion for the community, and we wanted to be there to celebrate this special occasion with them.

“As a proud Australian brand, we want to show our Asian consumers that we understand the aspirations of modern Asian-Australian families.

“Our Asian family is proud of their heritage, but they are also eager to be part of the Australian community”.

The campaign creative was developed by multicultural communications agency, Identity.

Identity Communications managing director Thang Ngo:  “There are around one million Chinese speakers in Australia, making this audience highly attractive for brands.

“Just using red and gold colours or number 8’s in creative doesn’t cut-through anymore.

“It’s not new, doesn’t stand out and doesn’t demonstrate an understanding beyond cultural clichés.

“Brands need to demonstrate more sophistication and deeper understanding if they want to build an authentic connection with this valuable audience”.

The campaign will be rolled out on SBS TV and Chinese and Vietnamese channels including Pay TV, digital, print, Weibo and WeChat social media and bi-lingual out of home.



Client: SunRice

Head of Marketing & Insights: Andrew Jeffrey

Senior Marketing Manager: Shannon Cumberlidge

Brand Manager: Peta Thomas

Agency: Identity Communications

Managing Director: Thang Ngo

Head of Studio: Tobias Young

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

Top 5 Tips for Marketers during Chinese New Year 2019

Top 5 Tips for Marketers during Chinese New Year 2019

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.

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.

Cracking a $32b Consumer Segment

Cracking a $32b Consumer Segment

Sean Zhu, Identity Communication’s business analyst shines a spotlight on a potential audience that’s worth $32b. 

If you’re a marketer, I can recommend a group in Australia that is over 626,000 in size and contributes $32 billion to the Australian economy. They’re easy to reach as they’re concentrated in major cities. They’re young, most are between 18-26 years of age, are tech savvy, enjoy entertainment and travelling and embrace new experiences. They should be a marketer’s dream. But this group maintains a strong connection with the homeland and homeland media channels, so your ‘mainstream’ media may not get through to this large and lucrative group.

You’ve probably guessed, they’re International Students, a potential multicultural marketing segment for Australian brands.

International Student

The numbers are up….

International Student enrolment includes those studying in the Higher Education, VET, Secondary Schooling, English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS).

In 2017, there were 796,529 enrolments. This represents a 12% increase on 2016 and compares with an average annual enrolments growth rate of 4% per year over the preceding ten years.

Higher education a greater contributor

44% of international enrolments in 2017 are in higher education and 27% in vocational education (VET) out of the total number, with China and India being the two largest contributing countries.

VET: The VET sector accounted for 27.2% of total enrolments, India contributed the largest share of in the sector. China was the next largest source country followed by the Republic of Korea and Thailand.3

ELICOS: The English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector accounted for 19.4% of total enrollments in 2017. China was the largest ELICOS market followed by Brazil, Colombia and Thailand.

Higher education: The higher education sector had the largest share in 2017. China and India accounted for 53% of enrolment.
The larger proportion of Higher education means two things:
– Longer time spent in Australia which brings more opportunities for brands
– But they maintain their home networks including social channels, knowing they will return

Tuition Fees
International Students are not eligible for most of the scholarships or student loans and need to pay each semester in advance. Typically, the costs are:

  • ELICOS: $250 – $350 per week, 10-60 weeks
  • VET: $1,000- $20,000 depends on the degree and institution
  • Higher education: The average tuition fee for undergraduate students is around $29,000 per year; Master’s degree ranges from $20,000 to $37,000.
    For example, an International Student studying a Bachelor degree of Marketing and Media (3 years full time) in Macquarie University, the estimated annual fee is $36,450. These fees tend to increase each year.

Geographically concentrated on NSW & VIC

NSW and VIC is home to nearly 70% of international students. And in NSW and VIC, International Students make up one in three students at many universities.


  • This is a young group of consumers, perfect for entertainment, travel, banking, FMCG, food & beverage and beauty brands
  • Reach these audiences via their preferred channels, such as WeChat, Weibo, YouKu, to name a few
English language proficiency as a criterion in audience selection

English language proficiency as a criterion in audience selection

Audience size and English language proficiency are often the two most critical selection criteria for multicultural marketing campaigns. IDENTITY Communications, the intelligent multicultural marketing agency agrees, and disagrees. Here’s why…

The audience selection for multicultural campaigns can be a little formulaic. Pick the largest language population for a particular demographic (age, gender etc), then consider their English proficiency as a way of further ranking them. For example, if the campaign targets all people 18yo+ then multicultural marketers might pick the largest 20 language groups in Australia, then they’d rank them by the proportion with low English language proficiency (those who claimed to speak English “poorly” or “not at all” when they answered the 2016 Census).

Use the table below to rank/sort languages by the respective columns – currently it’s ranked by groups with the lowest ratio of English proficiency.  On top that is Marra, an Australian Aboriginal language spoken in the Northern Territory around the Roper, Towns and Limmen Bight Rivers. Of eight people who speak Marra at home, 75% claimed to have low English language proficiency. Rounding out the top 3 are Zomi and Rohingya, mainly spoken by migrants from Myanmar.

[table id=18 /]

When English proficiency is used, language groups such as Hindi, Punjabi and Tagalog/Filipino are often excluded. This makes sense for mass awareness campaigns because these groups are able to access information via ‘mainstream’ comms. In Australia, cultural media are relatively limited compared to mainstream options, so these groups are more likely to be exposed to campaign messaging via mainstream channels.

But what if we wanted to go beyond driving awareness? What if we wanted to drive consideration and action?

Even  groups with very high English language proficiency, advertising in-language, in either ethnic media or mainstream media, has a positive effect in terms of awareness, trust and likelihood to buy, according to a new US study by the Cultural Marketing Council (CMC). Their report, Digital Lives 2018: A World of Digital “Everything” Through a Cultural Lense found “ads placed on platforms with cultural content have more power across ages and languages… Spanish-language ads – even in mainstream sites – create more engagement with Hispanics. The CMC conducted an online quantitative study of 3,500 total 13 to 49-year-old respondents with equal representation of non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic African-Americans (NHAA) and Hispanics (HISP), as well as in-home qualitative among 15 respondents.

Culture Marketing Council 2018 Digital Lives Whitepaper

As can be seen in the image above, placing Spanish-language advertising on sites with content for the Hispanic community will lead to this audience paying more attention to the product, trust that brand more and ultimately more likely to buy that product. The results were similar regardless of whether the language on that site was in Spanish or English. Similarly, placing advertising on a site with African-Americans content, although the site is in English, dramatically increases the likelihood of purchase.

What does this all means? Well, if it’s a simple information campaign which doesn’t involve consideration and behaviour change, and you’re spending a decent budget on ‘mainstream’ channels, then translated advertising placed in cultural media may not be essential for groups with high English language proficiency such as those born in India and the Philippines.

But… if you are a car brand who want to stand out in a competitive market, it makes a lot of sense (and dollars) to use cultural media to build awareness, trust and consideration for your brand.

And that’s why our media planners used Indian media for the Sonata campaign for client, Hyundai.

Agree or disagree? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.

Have questions? Send us an email, we’d love to hear from you. 

Super Saturday Federal By-Election 2018 – Top Languages

Super Saturday Federal By-Election 2018 – Top Languages

IDENTITY Communications, the intelligent multicultural marketing agency takes a quick look at the cultural diversity in these electorates.

July 28 is when voters in five federal electorates go to the polls in what’s being billed as “Super Saturday”. We’re staying away from the politics, but we can give you an idea of the cultural diversity of these seats that are in play.

Actually, in terms of cultural diversity at least, they’re not that diverse. This is particularly true for Mayo and Braddon where 91% of residents speak English at home, followed by Longman (88%), Fremantle (74%) and Perth (67%).

Italian speakers are shaping up as the largest cultural group in particularly in the West; Fremantle and Perth. Mandarin is second when you combine all five electorates, followed by Vietnamese.

Go for it, play with our table below and sort and search to your heart’s content!

[table id=14 /]

Photo credit: Australian Electoral Commission.

Go beyond cliches and go places

Go beyond cliches and go places

If this story resonates with you, I think you have a career with Identity Communications – the intelligent multicultural marketing agency. Read on and you’ll see what I mean…

Over six years ago, way before Gangnam Style, I thought Australia needed an Asian pop music show on free-to-air TV. People scoffed. Today, SBS PopAsia is going strong on TV, online, mobile and digital radio, with over 1.3m followers on their Facebook page.

Fastastic Baby - Big Bang

Sure these songs are ultra pop with incredible talent, dancing and over the top production value. If you’ve watched Big Bang’s Fantastic Baby music video (images above and video below) you’ll be impressed by the big budget, epic production.

The naysayers had their doubts:

There just wasn’t enough Korean teenagers for a feasible audience.
WRONG. While there were a few thousand Korean teenagers in Australia back in 2011, Korean Pop (Kpop) was a phenomenon that was spreading across Asia, particularly South East Asia, China and Japan. The Kpop wave was infectious. So the potential audience in Australia includes local Koreans, Asian-Australian teenagers and also local teens.

It’s in Korean limiting the audience base.
The doubters warned that local teens wouldn’t get Kpop because the lyrics are in Korean. When I asked a local youth in Phnom Penh why Kpop was so popular in Cambodia when the songs are Korean, he shrugged and said “we don’t understand that much English and we like American pop. Kpop shows that Asians can be cool and sexy too”. A quick scan of SBS PopAsia’s facebook page today shows the diversity of the show’s fan base

These clips were available free on YouTube so why would this audience tune into a TV show?
On the surface, this objection made a lot of sense. I was confident the show would work because SBS PopAsia wasn’t just a two-hour TV show, it was a community. The avid fans of Kpop at the time thought they were the only ones in Australia who loved Big Bang, 2NE1, 2PM, Girl’s Generation and other Kpop groups. They were watching it on their own, on their laptop in the isolation of their bedroom. SBS PopAsia was the first Asian pop music show on free to air TV. It wasn’t a secret. To build engagement, for the first 6 weeks of the show, I managed the twitter account while other members of the team managed the Facebook page. Our purpose was to engage with the fans and encourage them to engage with each other, to build a thriving, exciting community. They also had a chance to interact with the show with selected viewer tweets and Facebook comments appearing on TV.

The other reason the fans told us they loved tuning in was that they could watch their favourite show on the big TV screen, in glorious hi-definition and pump the music loud through the lounge room audio system.

SBS doesn’t have a budget to pay for these music videos.
At the time, Australia was the #3 country in terms of illegal Kpop music downloading. In negotiation with the Korean music labels, we argued that SBS could build the Kpop market further via our TV show and they could commercialise it by setting up Australian iTunes stores. I had no real negotiation experience, but the logic was compelling enough for these music labels to agree to supply SBS with their music clips.

What’s the moral of this story?

At a superficial level, some may see challenges and it’s easy to find reasons to say ‘no’. Others can’t see past the surface. At Identity, we’re about insights not anecdotes. We believe a multicultural marketing agency shouldn’t speak in shallow cliches. Our team looks beyond to understand the real reasons that motivates our audience. Our recommendations come from considered strategy that have been built on available data and insights. 

Join Us

Due to a string of new business wins, we’re looking for a strategy/channel planner. Starting a pop music TV show isn’t a prerequisite, but a wide-eye curiosity and desire to understand “why” is a great start.

Our core behaviours, the ones we encourage you to employ daily, are also the ones you will be rewarded for. We’d love you to be:

  • Open-minded
  • Collaborative
  • Positive
  • Knowledgeable
  • Good

If this is of interest, call a taxi, Mr Taxi (watch the clip below) and submit your application here. It’s a great role and one that doesn’t come along everyday!