7 CNY Marketing Campaign Learnings for Always-On Digital Marketing 2021

What is marketing if not opportunistic? In a country like Singapore, Chinese New Year (CNY) signifies the floodgates opening for many brands’ digital marketing strategies. It’s crowded, and so very noisy. And unlike how bargaining might go at a Chinatown CNY market, SMEs don’t stand a chance against larger companies in the bidding wars. Instead, us small fries struggle with how to make our limited advertising dollars work best for our companies.

Source: GIPHY

So where’s the value in ogling at others’ CNY digital marketing strategies this late?

It’s in allowing us to be opportunistic. Seasonal marketing forces brands, both small and large, to wrack their brains and whip out their most innovative marketing ideas. This wins them the votes of consumers who are in the best of moods, with more money to spend on their pain points. But in an SME digital marketing strategy with limited resources, innovation is the Always-On reality. It’s also a a surefire way to spending less on more effective marketing campaigns.

May these curated campaigns inspire and coax your inner ‘idea person’ out, all year round.

TBWA\ Singapore’s DIY CNY accessory range

Source: TBWA\

Creative agency TBWA\ launched these do-it-yourself (DIY) CNY accessories to cater to us folk who weren’t planning to go shopping for festive outfits that we’ll only wear once.

The limited-edition accessory range comes in the form of detachable accessories that’ll spruce up your clothes. Think slip-on collars, pockets that actually work, and other cute little knots and the like that you’d typically associate to traditional Chinese outfits. Taking the adorable ingenuity to an even higher level, the agency packaged these in festive cookie bottles to keep these designs ever-“fresh” for an IG worthy CNY outfit.

What good does a creative agency like TBWA\ gain from selling these DIY accessories? It may have little place in TBWA\‘s business model, but it’s testament to the company’s disruptive ideation process. And as a bonus, they get to make the $$ they put into the creative experiment back.

Action point for your always-on digital marketing strategy:

As marketers, you’ve got the freedom to draw parallels between what consumers want and what your SME offers. Evaluate if it’s worth your time to develop consumer-facing activities that showcase your brand’s abilities. Think of a fun way to address a pain point, then think of how to link it back to your brand’s values and products.

Google Pay’s Huat Pals: What can SMEs learn?

From 4 to 26 February 2020, Google Pay housed an in-app game that allowed users to collect five characters called Huat Pals on the app. Users could do this by going down a daily activity checklist that included transferring money to a friend, or recruiting a new user.

Source: HardwareZone

Employing the addictiveness of gachapon games, the app had different “drop rates” and quirks for each character, with the character BB Loh being most elusive. Collecting all five pals would earn users anywhere between $8.88 to $88.88 (we love free money).

Google Pay also pushed its audience to obsession by laying sweet cookie crumbs as users tried to collect all five pals. Transferring money to friends would earn users “ang pows” or scratch cards that included NTUC Fairprice vouchers, and free money that would be deposited straight into their bank accounts. But really, nothing comes free in marketing.

By the end of the Huat Pals marketing campaign, Google Pay had acquired new users by making referral marketing fun, and embedded its usability as a payment experience designed around relationships. There’s even a user-owned Telegram group called “Huat Pals” with slightly over 11,700 members remaining in it, a full month after CNY (we checked on 19th March 2020).

Action point for your always-on digital marketing strategy:

Build a content strategy that leaves cookie crumbs for your consumers, granting them value as they embark on different touchpoints of their user journey with you. Appeal to consumers’ most innately human interests.

The ‘Most Frustrating Red Packet”: DDB China for Skittles

This year, many brands allowed their consumers to gift each other digital ang baos, but Skittles and DDB China decided to gamify the process, appealing to our inane addiction to annoying tapping games. Skittles‘ digital ang bao required that people tapped a whopping 50,000 times to open their red packet. They called it “the most annoying red packet in history” and paired it with a cheeky video with two men getting old as they attempted to open their packet.

And it wasn’t just any other gimmick – consumers were driven to tapping themselves crazy for the RMB49,999 (SGD10,309) that Skittles gave to the first person to open the Skittles red packet! We’re not sure how long it took them, but a test implied that you’d have to tap non-stop for three whole hours to open the packet. Translate your potential winnings to an hourly rate, and you’d be earning RMB17,000 an hour (SGD3,505). We’re definitely tasting the rainbow, ha-ha.

Action point for your always-on digital marketing strategy:

Instead of using your brand or client’s giveaway budget on base level contests, consider gamifying the experience with simple solutions so you’ll leave a lasting impression on consumers’ minds. There’s no harm in some brainless fun, like Skittles spun to its advantage in its teaser video.

Meet Isaac’s Don’t Sabo Marketing Campaign

Source: MeetIsaac

With CNY in Singapore being mandated to social distancing rules and an eight person limit for every household, coordination between visitors and families was of utmost importance. Creative digital agency Meet Isaac created a website dedicated to making sure you’re not causing any trouble or sabo-ing anyone with your fun CNY plans.

The Don’tSabo microsite is a CNY schedule booking platform, where you can create a CNY invite and invite your family members to it! After that, you family members will receive an email push notification — no awkward Whatsapp conversations necessary. According to them, it’s all part of good CSR (Chinese New Year Social Responsibility)! There are also some other cheeky resources that enhance the user journey, like an Instagram filter, and a flowchart on how much money you should give a relative in a red packet based on how close they are to you.

Action point for your always-on digital marketing strategy:

Make use of microsites when you need to showcase clear, concise presentation with a focused path for your users! Enhance the user journey by adding resources that consumers can take home or act upon.

Apple’s iPhone Nian Ad

Apple has built a reputation for cinematic masterpieces over the years, using striking films to display the technical camera capabilities of iPhones over generations. For CNY 2021, the Apple marketing strategy put storytelling high on the agenda with its 11-minute short film Nian.

Shot on the iPhone 12 Pro max, Nian put a fresh spin on Chinese folklore. Playing on the well-loved trope of innocence drawing the vulnerability out of a beast, the film told the story of a young girl who sought to face the feared mythical Nian beast. And like every good beast-and-girl story, the two build an acceptance for each other and friendship blossoms.

Action point for your always-on digital marketing strategy:

Stop falling back on ways to blatantly force your brand’s messaging into your creative assets. Instead find balance and use storytelling as a vessel for consumers glean your brand’s capabilities and attributes from. Everybody loves a good story.

Singtel’s CNY Series Continues in 2021: My Grandmother’s House

Speaking of brand storytelling, Singtel capitalised on its CNY 2020 video investment titled His Grandfather’s Road in 2021, with My Grandmother’s House. The poignant 2021 short film featured the same kiasu characters as the 2020 one, in an ode to celebrating CNY in a uniquely Singaporean way. The film sees two families race to their grandmother’s home for lunch, driven by the eight-person social distancing limit.

In doing so, Singtel drove its presence as a driver for keeping people “connected to what matters”. The film also has a cheeky nod to 5G connections, which help save the day for Grandma who gets reconnected with a long-lost friend. What came of it for Singtel? A brand storytelling campaign that articulated its values of family, community, inclusivity, and quality 5G! And for consumers, a genuine piece of entertainment.

Action point for your always-on digital marketing strategy:

Instead of telling your consumers what’s important to you, illustrate it, in ways that you can both understand. Don’t compromise on the key markers that make the essence of your story for brand messaging, or you’ll lose your audience. Also, subtlety is key when it comes to product placement 😉

Tribal’s Lo Hei Soundboard

Tribal Worldwide's lohei soundboard inspired by DJ Beng as part of digital marketing strategy for CNY 2021.Tribal Worldwide's lohei soundboard inspired by DJ Beng as part of digital marketing strategy for CNY 2021.
Source: Marketing Interactive

Before CNY 2021, the Singaporean government mandated that there could be no shouting of auspicious phrases during lohei sessions. Needless to say, consumers were bummed about needing to toss their ingredients in silence. Luckily, there’s a digital solution to everything!

Tribal Worldwide Singapore launched a mobile site that allow you to “shout” virtually in the form of a soundboard. “Huat Ah” and “Yam Seng” are amongst the soundboard’s offering, even allowing the option to choose the duration of how long you want the “Yaaaaaaam Seng” to be!

Tribal also accessorised the app by allowing you to choose the ingredients that you want to add to your lohei, and pick what you’d like to wish for, along the likes of “wealth”, “love”, and “tio 4d ai mai”!

Action point for your always-on digital marketing strategy:

When you’re investing in a core concept, can you add elements that can create a more holistic experience for your users? It’s one way to make your marketing investment work harder for you. With that said, don’t cloud your solution with too many peripheral bits – consumers prefer streamlined experiences like single-purpose apps.

Key Takeaways for your Always-On Digital Marketing Strategy

At its core, these digital marketing campaigns all tell consumers that they’re being put first. The way to do this to prioritise their pain points, and be wholesome. In times of distracted and disloyal consumers, brand loyalty is a fleeting concept. Avoid overwhelming consumers by keeping things simple.

Find balance between brand messaging and storytelling for your digital marketing strategy. Not sure how?

Shoot us a quick message to schedule a free consultation and build a digital marketing strategy that both works, and entertains.

Author: Hijanah

Takes The Office a smidge too seriously, walks into walls, and makes god-awful puns (debatable). Between music, television, and people, Hijanah writes about things as sees them--no BS. Hijanah also writes for publications ScreenRant and The Homeground, as she hones her personal brand: Phumbling Phalanges Writing.

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