Chinese New Year Campaigns of International Brands – The Winners and Losers

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To celebrate the upcoming Chinese Lunar new year and strive for sales opportunities, various luxury brands have launched the Year of the Tiger limited edition designs and advertisements.

The Bain & Company’s luxury research reports that the Chinese mainland’s share in the global market has almost doubled since 2019, reaching 60 billion euros by 2021.

In order to stand out in marketing for the Year of the Tiger, each brand has different ideas and to closely relate their brand and products to the Year of the Tiger theme to win the recognition of Chinese consumers.

The different brands use different levels of marketing campaigns. From special themed limited products over themed advertisements and posters to pure branding campaigns online and on TV up to cinematic films. The range of possible activities is wide – but also dangerous – recently – with more and more brands being critically observed in their interaction with the Chinese culture.

Limited Products Series for Chinese New Year

Louis Vuitton

This year, Louis Vuitton designed the image of a cute tiger for a limited Chinese New Year series. It shows a brown Louis Vuitton bag with its typical logo pattern with the orange and white tiger protecting the precious item. The image of the bag varies on the bag to become a chest instead. The image is used on various items such as woolen hats, accessories, and tableware.

However, many consumers disapprove of the limited products of LV’s storage box series this year, because they think it is almost the same as last year’s design, just changing the animals on the top.

Also, some Chinese netizen mentions that the pattern design is too fancy to wear in daily life. It shows that Louis Vuitton’s advertisement does not seem to win the recognition of Chinese consumers.

We consider Louis Vuitton a Loser this year.

Burberry

Burberry’s design of the Chinese New Year is a tiger running with a red scarf wrapped around her neck. The whole clothes are printed with these patterns and tiger stripes, which looks very exaggerated.

Some Chinese consumers commented, that when they saw this silk scarf, they didn’t feel that it was a special design of the Year of the Tiger. The rather got the impression this design is outdated.

In summary, the limited series of Louis Vuitton and Burberry this year has lacked novelty and the design is messy in customers’ opinion.

If the brand really wants to launch the Spring Festival series with positive market echo, they might need a deeper understanding of Chinese aesthetics as well.

We consider Burberry a Loser this year as well. 

Apple

After Apple first launched the Chinese New Year logo in the Year of the Ox, Apple continued to design a logo for the Year of the Tiger this year. The new logo combines the apple’s logo shape with the tiger’s elements, and with the red color scheme, it is cute and closely related to the Chinese New Year.

More than that, Apple also launched the special edition of AirPods Pro for the Year of the Tiger. Different from the regular version, it will engrave the cartoon pattern of the tiger head on the AirPods Pro charging box, and the exclusive logo of the Year of the Tiger will be printed on the outer packaging. Also, customers can get a set of 12 red envelopes printed with each Chinese zodiac sign when they buy them from the Apple Store and Apple Online Store.

Apple’s activities this year are well recognized by consumers. Not only is the LOGO designed with distinctive features, design the logo with the red color which can represent China, but also give away red envelopes for special gifts. Apple’s campaign this time received a lot of praise from many netizens.

We consider Apple a Winner this year.

Advertisement and Poster Campaigns for Chinese New Year

Gucci

In addition to the deep understanding of product design, the design of advertisements and posters also needs to be more cautious. Putting tigers directly on products or posters seems to be the direct symbol of the Chinese Lunar New Year, but many things can go wrong.

  • Gucci launched the ‘Gucci Tiger’ series to welcome the Year of the Tiger and wanted to attract customers by the popularity of the Chinese zodiac. However, it caused controversy because they placed a real tiger in advertisements and posters together with human models.
  • The China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation commented that they strongly protested against Gucci’s use of tigers to shoot the commercial advertisement of the Year of the Tiger in 2022.
  • Also, they pointed out that Tigers around the world are rapidly going extinct due to habitat loss and human over-utilization. Gucci’s use of tigers for commercial shooting violates business ethics and is equivalent to encouraging illegal hunting and trade of endangered animals in disguise’.

Eventually, this would lead to consumers’ dissatisfaction and disappointment with Gucci, which greatly reduced the reputation of the brand. 

This also shows that the line between success and failure is very narrow. It’s necessary to understand the background of the Chinese market before advertising in China.

We consider Gucci a Loser this year.

Prada

Instead of printing the tiger directly on the product, Prada chose to launch a special project of ‘Action in the Year of the Tiger’. This activity has given more extension to traditional culture, and successfully won unanimous praise from Chinese consumers.

  • The project invites students from art colleges in China and even around the world under the age of 30 to create tiger themed artworks. The best artworks would be presented throughout the Prada Year of the Tiger project.
  • In addition, Prada is committed to carrying out charitable activities to protect tigers, calling it ‘Action in the Year of Tiger’, which will raise people’s awareness of big cat species through a series of activities.
  • In the ‘action’, Prada encourages young people to interpret the traditional Chinese zodiac culture and advocate practical actions to protect wild Siberian tigers, which successfully makes Prada stand out in so many brands of Year of the Tiger activities.

Prada’s event was undoubtedly a complete success, its special activities continued the Chinese Year of the Tiger culture in a brand-new way, which not only won the favor of Chinese netizens, but also enhanced the brand reputation.

We consider Prada a winner this year.

Become a winner in the Chinese branding campaign

To sum up, luxury brands attach great importance and consider China as an increasingly important market for global luxury brands.

However, it is not enough to organize Chinese advertising with one’s own random ideas. It is undoubtedly necessary to have a deeper understanding, and to advertise the brand to the Chinese market in a suitable way to attract Chinese consumers. So, international brands need to be more careful to avoid mistakes in the biggest growth market of luxury goods.

In order to avoid customers misunderstanding the original intention of the brand – to maximize the advertising effect – the brand needs to attach great importance to Chinese ideas, aesthetics and consult with professionals for the Chinese market.

Jademond Digital is a Full Digital Marketing agency based in East Asia and is specialized in bringing overseas brands to China, Japan, and South Korea.

Jademond has great experience in helping clients to advertise in suitable marketing methods in China, know-how regarding the regional channels made the success of our clients possible.

For more information please feel free to say hello to us via email at hello@jadegital.com.

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