How to set your brand apart during Chinese New Year with content?

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For many brands in the Chinese speaking world, the Chinese New Year (CNY) period is traditionally the next spike for sales after the Christmas. Advertising tends to be sales driven and tactical. If a brand, however, were to set up a consistent content offering (or channel) that continuously delight and engage its customers, what sort of content should it produce? Sadly, I didn’t get to find any. But I did find one brand which spent quite a bit on a CNY campaign:

Tiger Beer has opted for the idea of “making CNY complete”. A moving video spread using social media tells the tale of how Mr David Lee wishes for his 3 children to be home for CNY.

The accompanying tactical promotion calls for entries from people who wants to be come home for CNY from abroad for which the lucky winner will get free tickets. There is also extended content where an outdoor booth was set up in Melbourne (presumably in a campus where many Singaporeans are located) that allowed people to record what they miss about home and win travel vouchers to actually take the trip home.

I do feel that the video (The Letter) touched the heartstrings of viewers (I confessed to have a little tear) over the theme of “Reunion” which is what CNY is all about culturally. But this is not a critique on the video. Rather, the brand that Tiger Beer has been trying to build up through the current agency is “Uncaged”. Yet this theme is not consistently executed for CNY. So although it is a consistent campaign, it does not lend to the brand.

Media/telcos (or at least their promo producers) love to create touching “branding spots” for CNY. StarHub and Singtel both have theirs:

StarHub underlines #NeverGrowApart whereas Singtel uses “Stay Connected”. Some have commented that no matter how well the spots were shot (and they are well produced), the messaging is rather “same-old-same-old”. More importantly, I don’t see how these spots add to their respective brands. This is because they are “once a year” messages/content. What gives brands the right to go all mushy and remind us about family bonding when there is none of that throughout the rest of the year?

Hence, I cannot stress enough on the importance of setting your brand’s content compass and creating a content channel. Only upon a genuine relationship, can such CNY messages (assuming also that they are aligned contextually to the content compass) be “branding spots”.

Update: Somehow felt that I did not really answer the title of the post… and then I realised that I missed out one more “campaign” (how could I?)…

Apple did a great spot directed by Peter Chan (allegedly based on a true story). I touched on how true stories are getting the edge over normal ads in?True Story!, but what is the difference (other than budgets and production quality) between this spot and the ones mentioned earlier? Since Apple did not champion family ties/reunion, surely they are in the same position as Tiger, Starhub and Singtel? In my opinion, although there are no consistent content channel for Apple, there have been content of all sorts showing what their products are capable of. The key difference therefore, is the line “Shot on iPhone X”. With this single line, the connection to the brand is made. Yes, it is a touching story. Yes, it is timely for the season. But enjoying it as a mini movie produced by award winning Peter Chan… shot on an iPhone X. Is it cheapened by the selling message? On the contrary, I think it allows viewers to enjoy the spot knowing the connection to the brand (yeah, they want to let us know that iPhone X is awesome). The earlier campaigns however, did not have selling messages, which made them more “altruistic” and on higher moral ground. This invites the question of “what gave them the right…?”.

So, how do you set your brand apart during CNY using content? Make sure your brand’s unique selling point is featured and most importantly, make sure the content is consistent with your content compass?at the heart. And don’t make it a once-off campaign (broken record…). 🙂