Chinese New Year ads: Emotions pull in audiences but education is key to being remembered

As we enter the Year of the Rat, advertising creatives across Asia offer their favourite Chinese New Year (CNY) campaigns from over the years. Here, we celebrate the best work from the festive period and hear their views on what is best in class.

I have a soft spot for advertisements that tugs heartstrings.

While sex sells, emotions linger.

Even before the 2018 D&G saga that resurfaced this old 2015 advertisement, this is a Chinese New Year ad that I’ve come across and every year, I can’t help to watch it repeatedly, without fail. Five minutes well spent, every time I watch it.

The advertisement was first exposed to me while watching the annual CCTV New Year Gala together with my father, who migrated from Shanghai some 27 years ago to Singapore. As I struggle to keep up with my Shanghainese roots, and the rapid changes within the vibrant Mainland, the scene where the mother spoke to her daughter in Shanghainese was especially poignant to me - due to the fact that, still, I struggle to use chopsticks the proper way.

My dad resonated with the scene of the ABC in San Francisco paying respects to the late parents on the praying alter, as it reminded him that no matter how far he is away from home, he is Chinese, and is connected to his roots. He had to yin shui si yuan (Chinese idiom: when you drink water, think of its source), and remembered where he came from.

The festive season often means that the “migration” of the Chinese from all around the world starts weeks before Chu Yi (the first day of CNY). The ad cleverly depicted major dialect groups, cultures within China and captured hearts in the first few seconds. Perhaps it’s the transition of evoking emotions through a baby’s first taste and ending the scene with seniors and firecrackers that warmed me up. We might be living in modern times, but traditions stick during this crucial period, bonding through the key message of reunion dinners, happiness and family first.

We celebrate the occasion yearly without fail, it brings up Confucius' saying of “to put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.”

Tugging emotions is a way to get buy-in from the audience. But to have this ad thrive and survive through the thousands of ads that are being produced every day, the only way to live and not to be forgotten is through the important lesson of education.

Lynn Yang, chief (business), Project WXY

Check out the latest holiday ads here, and keep an eye on The Drum's ongoing Chinese New Year coverage.

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