This is the second part of our Lunar New Year marketing guide — check out part 1 first! 🏮
Do This, Not That
When constructing a Lunar New Year campaign, there are a few key things to keep in mind beyond following our step-by-step process. Many of these things are not obvious and can seem harmless to someone not familiar with Chinese culture. However, if you aren’t careful, you can give off the wrong impression to your target audience which is a surefire way to be ignored, or worse, boycotted.
Be sure to include accurate Chinese translations in your ads and marketing materials to avoid cultural missteps. Each language has its own idioms and nuances that simply can’t be captured by running your message through Google Translate. Hire a content translation service who can capture the essence of your brand while ensuring your offerings resonate with your intended audience.
Target your ads specifically to Chinese audiences where they spend their time. Also consider using Simplified as well as Traditional Chinese copy. While the former is generally used in Mainland China, the latter is used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
You’ll want to use traditional symbols and elements in your ads. Much more so than in Western culture, symbolism, superstition, rituals, and tradition are extremely important in Chinese culture, and it would be a mistake to underestimate their significance. Lunar New Year represents prosperity, abundance, and connection, and there are many symbols and elements you can use in your marketing materials that represent this zeitgeist:
- Red, yellow, and gold colours: these are associated with good luck, happiness, success, and wealth
- The zodiac animal of the year
- Lanterns: keep evil spirits and bad luck at bay
- Red pockets: filled with money and given to children to bring happiness and good fortune
- Family connection: Beyond the consumerism and gift-giving aspect, Lunar New Year is about spending time with family — capture your audience’s emotions to drive your message home
- The number 8 and Chinese character ‘fu’ (福): these are symbols of good luck
- A word on ‘fu’: 福 is generally seen upside down on Lunar New Year because the words ‘to arrive’ and ‘upside down’ are homophones. Therefore, ‘good luck is arriving’.
Encourage user-generated content and interactive ads — this is one of the best ways to engage potential customers during Lunar New Year. It will help create a sense of community and allow people to feel connected to your brand, and with each other. A brand is made up of people, of course! Use that as a strength to leverage participation with your content, and get creative with your offers.
Lunar New Year is a time of fun, togetherness, and celebration. And this is the perfect opportunity to engage your audience and tap into their festive spirits.
You can encourage user participation through contests, giveaways, games, limited-time discounts & incentives. This will encourage more people to post about your brand and help you reach a larger audience.
When marketing around Lunar New Year, there are a few things you’ll want to avoid that might not be so obvious if you aren’t familiar with Chinese culture.
Avoid using stereotypical Chinese images in your marketing materials. Pandas, dragons, and random Chinese characters are often used in Western advertising campaigns, but they can be seen as insulting, or dismissive by the Chinese. Be sure to do your research and use culturally appropriate images and designs.
It should go without saying, but avoid insulting your audience’s culture. You may have heard of the despicable blunder made by Dolce & Gabbana that featured a Chinese model attempting to eat pizza with chopsticks while the commentator mocked her. This incident severely damaged the brand’s reputation.
Be sure not to translate your ads into Chinese without proper localization. By cutting corners and simply directly translating your messaging to Chinese, you will appear tone deaf. Instead, be sure to work with a Chinese marketing agency with many years experience in localizing your ads for the Chinese market.
Don’t include the number 4 – it’s a homonym for death in Chinese. Nor should you include the colours blue, black, or white prominently in your ads as they represent death.
Examples of creative LNY campaigns
Now that you have a general idea of the theme, channels, what to do and not to do, let’s take a look at some examples of successful Lunar New Year marketing campaigns.
Harry Rosen – 虎
Harry Rosen’s key visual for their Lunar New Year ads this year features the Chinese character 虎 for Tiger in a special traditional font. The messaging features Chinese idioms that relate to tigers but are also used to describe people who are charming and energetic — just like tigers.
Another facet of this campaign involved partnering with KOCs (key opinion consumers) on Chinese social network RED for sponsored posts. These are very effective since they are indistinguishable from organic posts and help the brand build trust with their audience.
Clarins – Special Double Serum
Our Senior Account Manager Cate’s favourite Lunar New Year campaign is from our client Clarins. Their campaign slogan is related to the year of the tiger, and they have released a limited edition Lunar New Year version of their popular Double Serum. A portion of the profits will be donated to WWF to raise awareness for endangered tigers in China.
Telus – Sponsored Livestreaming
This Lunar New Year, Periphery client Telus went all out on audience participation. We helped them run a sponsored livestream on WeChat with giveaways. Another part of their Lunar New Year campaign involved encouraging followers to play a memory game — the players with the best times to complete the game would be announced in a WeChat advertorial and win prizes.
These are just a few examples of successful Lunar New Year marketing campaigns. Also know that despite trying your best to get everything right, at the end of the day, you won’t have a crystal ball and won’t be able to know for sure if your campaign will resonate deeply with your intended audience. As marketers, we know that most of our job is just trying things out, analyzing the data, and continuing to keep optimizing to make it better until it works. Don’t get discouraged, you can do it!
There’s lots to consider when marketing during Lunar New Year, and there’s countless strategies that could work for you. Breaking into a new market can seem daunting, but Lunar New Year is a huge opportunity to tap into the Chinese market and see amazing success for your brand. That being said, we know that it can be difficult to find the time and resources to launch such a campaign yourself, especially if it’s your first time. At Periphery Digital, we have years of experience creating successful Chinese-language marketing campaigns, for Lunar New Year and all throughout the year. If you need help planning, strategizing, and executing your campaign, or even if you have no idea where to start, contact us today 🧧