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Creative Creative Works Chinese New Year

Best of CNY: The Drum celebrates the Year of the Dragon


By Amy Houston | Senior Reporter

February 9, 2024 | 8 min read

Apple, DBS Bank and RHB Group have all released ads that play on themes of acceptance, insecurities and wealth.

Man looks glum in ad

Apple's CNY spot / Apple

Chinese New Year falls on Saturday, February 10, followed by a fortnight of vibrant festivities culminating in the Lantern Festival.

Marking the transition between Chinese zodiac signs, 2024 is the year of the roaring Dragon, said to be a time of many prospects and opportunities.

It is estimated that roughly 1.5 billion people celebrate worldwide – and brands, of course, want in on the action, with advertisers unveiling fun ads to mark the occassion.

From Apple’s latest ’Shot on iPhone’ film to the humorous approach from Time Internet, themes this year include community, acceptance, understanding and light-hearted fun.

Here are the best ads from this year’s holiday.

Apple ‘Little Garlic’ by TBWA\Media Arts Lab Shanghai

Apple is telling a poignant story for Chinese New Year that sees a little girl struggle with her looks and identity. The film addresses insecurities felt by Gen Z in China and beyond.

The whopping 15-minute spot was shot entirely on the iPhone 15 Pro Max using Action and Cinematic mode to creatively bring the delicate subject matter to life in an engaging way.

The tech giant is well known for its Chinese New Year spots, this being its seventh. Last year, it released a heartwarming film about a young man’s love of opera and the power of resilience.

DBS Bank ‘The Scent of Money’ by The Secret Little Agency

Asian bank DBS has launched its very own perfume, Huat Eau De Parfum, a limited edition fragrance designed to attract good fortune.

‘Huat’ means to ‘rise, expand and increase in wealth’ and is often shouted during festive celebrations.

Every Chinese New Year, millions of people flock to ATMs to withdraw new, crisp legal tender notes to place them in red packets to be distributed to friends and loved ones.

People who want to find out more about the fragrance are being encouraged to go to the bank’s Instagram page.

“Fragrance has always been rooted in powerful storytelling and primal experiences,” explained Nicholas Ye and Mavis Neo, co-chief creative officers at The Secret Little Agency.

“Huat Eau De Parfum adds a unique sensory dimension to festive gifting, enhancing practices associated with attracting wealth. Launching a perfume gave us a way to entrench DBS deeply in culture while making the experience of celebrating Chinese New Year even more exciting.”

Singapore Government ‘Extended Love’ by MullenLowe Singapore

MullenLowe Singapore collaborated with local director Royston Tan on this moving spot.

It features a young overseas-based Singaporean woman who returns home for Chinese New Year to persuade her grandmother to join her family abroad.

However, she soon learns that her grandmother, who runs a ‘cai png’ (mixed rice) stall at a coffee shop, has started her own Chinese New Year tradition of bringing neighbors together for a reunion dinner every year and that she is, in a way, not without family within the community.

“In this short film, we recognize that Singapore is becoming more diverse in terms of aspirations and preferences, even in celebrating our key festivities, but that what makes us Singaporean – resilience, unitedness, inclusiveness – remain the same,” says Paul Soon chief executive officer at MullenLowe Singapore.

“This mirrors the values of the Forward Singapore exercise as we build our shared future. We hope this heartwarming story can remind Singaporeans of what’s truly important – being present for each other.”

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Maybank Malaysia ‘Unspoken Connections’ by Grey Malaysia and Singapore

Starring Lim Bee Chin, this film spotlights the deaf community, exploring their experience of celebrating one of the world’s most vibrant, loud and exuberant festivities.

The film taps into their unique perspective while emphasizing the profound significance of sign language in breaking the silence.

It was created in partnership with production company Mojo Films. Its director, Barney Chua, commented: “Collaborating with the hearing-impaired community is familiar territory for my team. Over time, we’ve developed strong connections through various projects. That’s why I approached Wai Ling to co-direct this project. Her fearlessness and intelligence, evident from our previous encounter, made a lasting impression. She brought a wealth of creative ideas to the set, affirming my belief in her potential as an excellent director.”

RHB Group ‘Acceptance’ by FCB Shout

Malaysian bank RHB is celebrating the Lunar New Year with an ad that tells the story of activist and entrepreneur Beatrice Leong, who was diagnosed with autism in her mid-30s.

The spot was directed and narrated by Leong and is shot from a first-person perspective. Viewers are immersed in her world, which allows them to understand how a person with autism processes their surroundings.

Time Internet ‘Your Father’s Ad’ by Fishermen

Telco Time has taken a humorous approach to this year’s spot. The ad begins with an Indian family sitting around the dinner table when the daughter questions why they are featuring in a Chinese New Year campaign.

The spot then goes on to highlight each family member’s interests and allows them to be whoever they want to be.

For instance, the Mother decides that she wants to be in a Wong Kar Wai movie and the daughter decides that she wants to be a worldwide famous celebrity.

Interested in seeing more creative campaigns? Check out our Ad of the Day and the Best Ads of the Week sections.

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