2021 Chinese New Year campaigns unite around family

As the week countdown to Chinese New Year approaches, all brands who are hoping to reach and resonate with Chinese consumers have released their campaign for the most important festival in the Chinese calendar.

During Chinese New Year, many brands choose to incorporate the most common forms of celebration – red envelopes, decorations, Chinese New Year’s Eve reunion dinners and watching the New Year Gala together. Often, campaigns evoke nostalgia for the ways in which the festival was celebrated in the past before China’s rapid economic development, as in FC Barcelona’s 2020 video.

While nostalgia marketing has been popular in this year’s campaigns, a broad range of themes have been on show. Some ads touched on the impact of COVID-19 and the difficulties that individuals face being separated from their families during this year’s festival, as with Alipay and Yili. Indeed, the past year has shown the importance of love and family, and so, many brands, including Xiaohongshu and Alibaba, have put this at the heart of their campaign. On the other hand, Apple and Burberry parted from a focus on the festival itself and concentrated on nature with the latter examining the symbolism of spring.

Xiaohongshu cooks up a storm

Xiaohongshu based their campaign on food due to the growing popularity of this genre of content

Xiaohongshu’s campaign ‘Cook a Meal for Your Loved Ones’ 为爱的人做顿饭 is based on real-life stories from individuals who are part of the platform’s community. The review-focussed social platform decided to base their Chinese New Year campaign on food due to the growing popularity of this genre of content on Xiaohongshu. In 2020, there were over 20 million notes related to cooking.

The key message of Xiaohongshu’s advert is that the secret ingredient of any meal is always love. It shows the happiness and enjoyment that cooking can generate as the individuals in the video laugh and talk with their family and friends while preparing food, albeit not always successfully! The advert shows that, rather than expensive gifts, the act of cooking itself is a simple way to express love and make friends and families happy.

To boost engagement, Xiaohongshu launched a special frame for users to share their cooking stories

To boost engagement, Xiaohongshu launched a special frame for users to share their cooking stories, which, so far, has been used by over 5,000 people. The hashtag ‘#Cook a meal for your loved ones’ gained 22.34 million views and 13,000 people participated in the campaign via posting related notes on the platform.

Credit: Xiaohongshu

Yili brings hope to those affected by travel restrictions

Yili’s campaign appeals to the vast number of China’s urban workers who are unable to celebrate Chinese New Year in the normal way with family

Milk brand Yili’s ‘A Joyful Gathering’  百家聚欢笑 specifically appeals to people who are unable to return home this year to celebrate Chinese New Year. For many, the festival is their only opportunity to be reunited with family. However, a rise in COVID-19 cases has resulted in restrictions which have cut off travel for certain areas and required others to show a negative test, quarantine and conduct health monitoring if returning home. As a result, a vast number of China’s urban workers are unable to celebrate Chinese New Year in the normal way with family.

Yili’s video shows that, despite the dampener on festivities, people can still enjoy celebrations with those who live close to them.

White-collar worker Xiao Niu, his landlord and the local delivery man Xiao Wu bump into each other and discover that each is spending the festival alone. They decide to get together to celebrate and enjoy a lively Chinese New Year Eve dinner along with Xiao Niu’s friends. Xiao Niu and his companions still partake in Chinese New Year celebrations and customs, such as reversing “fu” posters, wearing red clothes and eating rice dumplings.

The video hit 14.2 million views and the hashtag ‘#A joyful gathering’ was viewed 380 million times on Weibo. Many netizens commented that the uplifting video made them realise that they could still enjoy their time with friends and neighbours despite not reuniting with their family.

Alibaba highlights the magic of a mother’s love

The video resonated with many netizens who could relate to the conflicted relationship with their mothers

Alibaba’s campaign ‘My Mum is Coming’ 我妈来了tells the story of Jiajia whose mother decides to travel to the city to celebrate Chinese New Year, a modern tradition, known as ‘reversed celebration’. While ‘reversed celebration’ is usually due to children’s busy working lives that restrict them from returning home, this year the phenomenon has presented itself due to COVID-19 regulations: restrictions on travellers to rural areas are more strict than on those travelling to cities.

On hearing her mum is travelling to her home, Jiajia immediately starts cleaning her room and hiding her toys, as well as telling her boyfriend to leave. On arrival, her mum reveals specialities from her hometown and begins to prepare a special Chinese New Year Eve dinner. However, the two get into constant arguments as Jiajia’s mum constantly nags her about tidiness and disrupts her during work hours. Her mother feels like Jiajia doesn’t appreciate her love and consequently packs up her bags and sets off home. However, in the process, Jiajia realises that her mother’s luggage is filled with food that she loves, and that, despite her shortfalls, her mum just wants to spend time with her.

The video resonated with many netizens who could relate to the conflicted relationship with their mothers. Alibaba encouraged online users to comment on the video recounting conversations with their mothers during Chinese New year. 

“Don’t buy a lot of products online as it’s difficult to return them.”

“You need to eat more vegetables to keep healthy.”

“Don’t spend too much time on your mobile phone after eating, you need to work out more regularly.”

Comments from netizens

The importance of family

With many Chinese people facing an out-of-the-ordinary Chinese New Year for the second year in a row, brands have a unique opportunity to show that they empathise with the challenges that their audience is facing. The above three brands have chosen to focus on the single most important aspect of celebrations – spending time with family and friends. As a result, they have received notable engagement online and resonated emotionally with consumers.

Want to join in a live discussion to watch and scrutinise the latest Chinese New Year campaigns? Register for Qumin’s 2021 Chinese New Year Ads UNPACKED event which takes place on February 10 at 2 pm GMT.

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