top of page
  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

3 Keys to a Successful CNY Campaign

What Western brands did wrong for Chinese New Year 2017

While the turn of the lunar calendar, or Chinese New Year, is not generally recognised by the West, it retains its status as the largest human migration in the world. For one week, China completely shuts down. The cost of travelling almost anywhere doubles and virtually nothing is open and even in China’s megacities, streets are becalmed.

As with any period of celebration, retailers often launch campaigns around the festival with the agenda of evoking spending. One particular tradition that encourages this is the giving of hongbao, or red envelopes, containing money. However, as ever in China’s unique market, brands must tread carefully when devising strategies around Chinese New Year.

What Works

In China, it is always important to find a connection. An established tradition is to return home, as such links to the mass exodus are safe to be a solid platform and position brands in good stead.

Clear, unambiguous messages. Understanding the codes of etiquette and respect have long been a shortfall of western companies in China. Brands should always double check that there is now way their campaign headline could be misconstrued by consumers, if there is, it will be found and exposed by Chinese netizens.

Innovation and imagination are crucial. The habits and tastes of Chinese netizens are constantly developing and growing in sophistication, with this, failure to innovate will meet with harsh punishment in performance. Brands running a similar campaign to the previous year will struggle to do well.

How Tough is it?

The embracing of CNY celebrations is at a stage where consumers now expect brands to run campaigns centred around the occasion. As such, merely offering online store deals simply will not cut it.

Chinese consumers appreciate effort more than their western counterparts. Success is built principally upon the connection created, rather than the amount spent by the brand. An excellent example of utilising a connection can be seen with Tottenham Hotspur, who’s logo includes a cockerel, engaging with fans and welcoming in the Year of the Cockerel. They have used this as a theme of a live stream, first team warm-up shirts and off-the-pitch player content.

Another pitfall of advertising around CNY is the net migration away from China’s biggest cities. This means that most mainstream avenues of advertising actually provide access to a smaller audience than during the rest of the year, another demonstration of how spending is no guarantee of success.

The Three Keys

1. Understand your audience, know what makes them tick and engage with them over it.

2. Base your campaign around the key elements of Chinese New Year. Chiefly: returning home, spending time with family, eating and celebrating new opportunities.

3. Remember that across the Asia Pacific, this festival is celebrated differently. Campaigns should be kept local, focused and personal. Brands must guard against greed causing campaigns to become spread too thinly.

22 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page