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Chinese New Year 2021: brands look for the light in the dark

A new film by KFC retells those crucial, final moments of the zodiac race with a surprising twist

For many, Chinese New Year 2021 will be very different from any other that has come before. But will brands be taking a different turn too? As marketers tread into new territory with their ads this year, you can keep up to date with the best Chinese New Year creative right here.

This time last year, Coronavirus had already begun to affect the way people in China had to behave – and it was starting to show signs that it was going to be a global problem that stretched beyond Asia.

In spite of this, 2021 will be the first year that Chinese New Year looks very different for the many Asian families who celebrate. As a result, some of the more traditional advertising tropes, such as people travelling far and wide to be with their families, have been left behind in 2020.

Yet storytelling is still high on the agenda for many brands. And in lieu of the tried and tested themes, the campaigns have turned out more creative than ever.

Apple’s ad depicts a fantastical monster, Burberry urges for positivity, while Coca-Cola celebrates the joy in everyday activities. Adidas combines online and offline with some heady special effects, Beats By Dre uses illustration, and Singtel goes straight for the funny bone.

Scroll down to see what brands have come up with already and click on the images to watch the ads in full.

Grab: Huatever You Want, Grab Got by Fishermen Integrated

Grab has once again collaborated with Fishermen Integrated this Chinese New Year. As part of the 'Huatever You Want, Grab Got' it released a 3-minute video, 'The Art of Tai Chi'. A kung fu hustle-inspired film, it tells the story of 'Little Bro' who is often the victim of his family's 'tai chi attacks' when it comes to Chinese New Year chores.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

H&M: Connect All Differences by Forsman & Bodenfors

This Chinese New Year, H&M is 'Connecting All Differences' acknowledging that this years celebrations will be different, as the world is different.

It considers the global challenges we have faced over the last year, from the pandemic to racial divides, suggesting this is a time to come together.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Liverpool FC: Happy Lunar New Year

Liverpool Football Club has wished a happy Lunar New Year to all of its supporters celebrating around the world.

Narrated by its manager, Jürgen Klopp the animation reflects on the highs and lows of the previous 12 months, during which Liverpool FC brought joy to fans by lifting the Premier League title.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Adidas: Year of the Ox

Adidas has launched a high energy, celebrity-packed Chinese New Year campaign for its Originals brand that focuses on a limited edition coin that users can redeem on or offline.

The campaign kicks off with a TV ad that uses special effects to tell stories of its celebrity stars traversing Chinese New Year in the city. The colourful ad features Jackson Yee, Eason Chan, Liu Yi Fei, Zhang Jun Ning and Wang Sheng Di.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Apple: Nian by TBWA Media Arts Lab

Apple’s consistent strategy of telling a well-crafted story that’s filmed using its latest mobile phone prevails, but for 2021 the brand has used a fantastical tale of a girl and a monster.

The brand has also enlisted award-winning filmmaker Lulu Wang, who directed the film remotely from LA, with a film crew on the ground in China.

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Coca-Cola: Confessions by McCann Worldgroup Shanghai

Coca-Cola has launched its Chinese New Year campaign, ‘Confessions.’ Based on some real-life stories, the ad explores the meaning of Chinese New Year in a world that changed with the pandemic.

The campaign, conceptualised by Mccann Worldgroup Shanghai, is a pastiche of three independent stories about young citizens living in China.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Beats by Dre: Beats by Dre CNY 2021 by Mother

Beats by Dre has launched a visual campaign that uses Chinese illustration to tell four stories around the insight that the year of the Rat shifted people’s perspective away from monetary value.

As the year moves into the Ox, Beats by Dre, and its agency Mother, wanted to tell stories that show how people may be prioritising their experiences in new ways, all while promoting its Beats Flex product.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Singtel: My Grandmother's House

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Singtel has reprised its comedic take on family life in a story about how a competitive family saves Chinese New Year by using 5G technology.

The characters from 2020’s ‘His Grandfather’s Road’ return and are as kiasu as ever, racing to get to grandmother’s house first in order to be within the eight-person limit (a nod to Singapore’s safe distancing rules).

Burberry: No Sweetness Without Bitterness by BBH China

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5/5 Vote

The arrival of spring every year signals that Chinese New Year is once again upon us, but with lockdowns across much of the world, celebrations this year are likely to be muted.

Fittingly, Burberry’s ad for 2021 makes subtle nods to how much Covid-19 has changed the way people celebrate the most important occasion in the Chinese calendar.

Created by BBH China and starring Burberry ambassadors, Zhou Dongyu and Song Weilong, the six-minute spot opens with a young girl wondering how spring looks like outside. As the young girl grows up and goes through life, she realises there is no sweetness without bitterness.

KFC Singapore: Surprise Zodiac by TSLA

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

A new film by KFC retells those crucial, final moments of the zodiac race with a surprising twist: it’s not the rat, or the ox that wins it, but KFC’s new Goldspice chicken that lights up the sky in a golden bolt to pass the finish line and into a bucket of KFC.

The film is narrated by a hungry, distracted father who is just raring to tuck into his bucket of KFC Goldspice, as his son listens on intently - an ode to the many familial interactions during Lunar New Year.

Papa John's CNY animation by Qumin

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote