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6 Lunar New Year Campaigns That Ring in 2023 with Meaningful Messaging


These campaigns from FCB SHOUT, Le Pub, TBWA, Tribal Worldwide and Unlisted want consumers to celebrate empowerment and caring, discovers Esther Faith Lew

 6 Lunar New Year Campaigns That Ring in 2023 with Meaningful Messaging

Image by TBWA\Juice Beijing and TBWA\BOLT Shanghai. Translating Joy campaign for BMW China.

Lunar New Year 2023 signifies a long-awaited restart in many ways. While economic sluggishness and inflation will continue to be a bugbear to manage, Asia Pacific can look forward to important shifts in consumer spending behaviour and market performance, according to the Economic Outlook 2023 report by the Mastercard Economics Institute.

Key to this shift is the reopening of China’s international borders and the end of its no-Covid policy. It heralds a resurgence in pent-up consumer and investment activity as China consumers return to a state of normalcy in their lifestyles. Leading from it, industries that are in the travel, hospitality service and experience sectors will particularly see an upward trend in consumer spend, while those in big-ticket durable goods can expect to see a decline, the report revealed. 

Joyce Ling, chief strategy officer of Wunderman Thompson China observes that China is driven by the momentum of commerce and social platform development, and has been focusing much more on conversion and sales in the past few years. “It’s now time for brands to really think about what the consumers need emotionally and mentally, and how can a brand play a meaningful role in their lives.”

Also worth noting in the report is the observation that businesses with an omnichannel presence will likely be more resilient to market challenges by meeting consumer demands – to be where they want to shop, and when. Efforts to extend brand awareness, product offerings, sales and offer flexible pricing structures will encourage positive return on objective and return on investment.

Acknowledging the impact of economic slow-down and inflation is Tiger Beer’s global brand director Sean O’Donnell, “The extent is quite different across markets and we still believe the long-term outlook is positive with predicted consumption growth and the development of the middle-class across Asia Pacific.”


With regards to consumer behaviour, Sean notes, “Consumers are becoming more discerning with regards to the products they choose and whether a brand stands for what they believe in – one that walks the talk instead of one-way advertising. This means we have to be more intentional and purposeful in how we engage this new generation of consumers by going beyond storytelling and becoming more purpose-led by story-doing. In 2023, Tiger plans to go beyond simply inspiring people to pursue their passions but will also empower people to do so.”

Leo Burnett Singapore’s head of planning Arielle Brustein adds that Lunar New Year briefs this year have reflected a preference for a more intimate and personalised approach as opposed to one that aims to create experiences for large gatherings among family and friends. “Covid restrictions, the lack of travel, and people’s heightened consideration for personal safety and hygiene changed all that. While we are now coming out of the pandemic, many are still preferring smaller gatherings. As an example, in our campaign for Bowmore whisky, we focused on creating a gift for a special reunion that reflects a more intimate moment.”

Empowerment and encouragement are strong messages that come across in this year’s campaigns, with an added focus on self-care and caring for others, all much-needed reminders for a society that is hoping for a return to a brighter future.

Says Shaun Tay, co-owner and CEO of FCB SHOUT in Malaysia, “Given what’s been happening after the Malaysian elections, there’s a real need for all of us to once again embrace the harmony that the country was once famous for. We need to move forward on a clean slate, to move past what was said and done before in order to realise a hopefully, more progressive and more unified Malaysia.”

These following Lunar New Year campaigns carry meaningful post-pandemic messaging brought to live by vibrant action, drama and witty humour. We take a look at six campaigns that serve as timely sounding boards for keeping our heads up in navigating 2023.

A ‘Bolder Tomorrow’ with Le Pub APAC and Tiger Beer

In this campaign, the goal was to” send a positive and meaningful message for the festive period” and to highlight the importance of coming together to celebrate, says Cyril Louis, APAC executive creative director of Le Pub.

“Our task was to remind people why it's so important to celebrate these special moments and accomplishments over the year. It was a compelling way of saying: 'Let's stop today for a bolder tomorrow'. To literally make people stop and see our message, we needed to launch the campaign conversation in a PR-able way, which led to the 'Bolder Tomorrow' stunt – an activation that stopped people in their tracks in the middle of the CBD.


“This was followed by our TVC, a film about people so focused on their pursuit of tomorrow they run straight past crucial moments in their life – graduations, victories, dream jobs, promotions and accolades,” adds Cyril.

What made this campaign impactful was that it allowed Cyril and his team to be disruptive but meaningful and different from the typical homogenised advertising seen during this festive period. He adds, “To resonate, it's essential to understand people's pressures in different Asian markets so we can tailor communications accordingly. Tiger Beer’s 'Bolder Tomorrow' research report provided insights into three key markets – Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam – so that we could understand people's anxieties and hopes for 2023. You have to be timely and contextual.”

Translating Joy with TBWA\Juice Beijing, TBWA\BOLT Shanghai and BMW

This campaign’s interpretation of celebration comes with a twist caused by AI-powered translation errors. BMW’s Chinese name means ‘Precious Horse’ but when it is run through AI translation software, the English translation becomes BMW instead of ‘Precious Horse’. 

It gave BMW the accidental opportunity to hijack Chinese culture. Throw in a plot where you have a printing company producing red packets with bilingual festive greetings and you have the makings of a witty commercial that is entertaining to watch. TBWA China’s chief creative officer Ronnie Wu and his teams maximised the momentum created by the launch film with a social activation that invited the public to join in, even creating and sharing their versions of Chinese to English AI-translated festive wishes via social media comments. May you have ‘Lucky money into BMW to success’!

‘A Clean Start’ with FCB SHOUT and RHB Bank

FCB SHOUT’s Lunar New Year campaign film for RHB Bank is very aptly titled ‘A Clean Start’. It highlights the story of Lex Low, a local hairstylist who gives free haircuts to the homeless.

“What really makes this social entrepreneur a cut above the rest is his willingness to do even more for the marginalised communities in Malaysia. He devotes much of his time to imparting his hairdressing skills to ex-convicts, ex-addicts and even the Orang Asli (indigenuous population in Malaysia), so that they can have the opportunity to build a career for themselves and succeed against the odds,” says Shaun.

Shaun adds that brands need to “remain authentic to their purpose” as savvy consumers will instinctively snub brands that are just “riding a trending theme”. “Almost every brand wants to be present during the many Malaysian festive occasions, but they need to determine if they have an authentic and relevant story to tell that creates an emotional connection between what the brand does and the context of the occasion.”

Stay Healthy with Tribal Worldwide Singapore and Ministry of Health

Titled ‘The Great A-salt’, this commercial takes healthy eating to dramatic heights with a fight scene in a restaurant to bring the message across: watch the salt. It is part of the ministry’s ‘Healthier SG’ initiative to promote preventive healthcare during a time of indulgent feasting. 

According to Tribal’s executive creative officer Benson Toh, they leaned into the popularity of Korean dramas to create an entertaining film that Singaporeans from all walks of life can appreciate. The campaign follows previous success in Kung Fu-style films to raise awareness of diabetes. 

Stay Resilient with TBWA\Media Arts Lab Shanghai and Apple

Apple celebrates Lunar New Year with a tribute to the art of Chinese Opera – an inspirational film shot entirely on iPhone, created by TBWA\Media Arts Lab. Award-winning director Peng Fei brings authenticity to the story, which celebrates a traditional art form, vividly showcased by iPhone’s powerful camera features.

From the make-up and costumes to the powerfully choreographed movements, the film captured each nuance with iPhone’s low-light feature and action and cinematic modes. Importantly, the film told the story of a traditional art form that is trying to preserve its relevance in a world dominated by modern culture. Opera performers spend years of training to perfect their craft, and this is a tribute to their undying passion and resilience.

Foster Familial Bonding with Unlisted, Ogilvy Shanghai, Hornet and Coca Cola 

This campaign warms the heart with its story about overcoming differences to share joyful moments. Unlisted’s animation director Yves Geleyn brought out the personalities of Grandma and Grandson Rabbit, enhanced by film illustrator and character designer Peter de Sève’s artistry.

Coca Cola’s message is to remind viewers that even though the years may pass, the experience of celebrating together as a family has timeless value, all while appreciating the “compelling narrative, cinematic whimsy and rich, textural details”, says Yves.

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LBB Editorial, Thu, 09 Feb 2023 06:34:21 GMT