The diversity of the Asia-Pacific region gives marketers plenty of opportunities to align their brands with significant cultural celebrations.
Marketers can engage audiences en masse throughout the year, whether it’s on Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, Korea’s “love days,” Diwali in India, or Melbourne Cup day in Australia.
But the potential pitfalls are also significant: A cultural misstep can waste entire campaign budgets and even do long-term damage to a brand.
Here are five classic APAC celebrations, accompanied by a marketing hack, to help your next occasion-based campaign make sense and get results.
Breaking Barriers In Singapore
This past Valentine’s Day, cinnamon-flavoured toothpaste brand Close-Up broke marketing boundaries with its love-filled TV commercial “Make Your Move.” The campaign, which never shows its toothpaste product, reveals the ABCs of love before coining the hashtags #breakthebarrier #makeyourmove.
Hack 1: Investing in quality creative means you are doing more than just contributing to the banal messaging often associated with national holidays. If you’re going to make your move, make sure it’s worth it.
The Chinese New Year is, perhaps, Asia’s most culturally significant festival for marketers. CNY celebrations occur in almost every APAC market. In addition to the dragon dancers, fireworks, and parades, CNY is a celebration for family and friends to come together. This makes travel and logistics an important part of the celebration for many.
Well-known APAC beer brand Tiger recognised the sentiment regarding reunification would appeal to the target audience during CNY 2017. So it deployed a fleet of 100 taxis, fully wrapped in product advertisement, to pick up passengers from Singapore’s Changi Airport. The taxis then took the passengers home to their loved ones to celebrate CNY together.
“There’s a common truth behind these occasions ... they make us happier,” wrote Katie Rockliff, strategy director at Sydney-based media agency Carat. Rockliff pointed to the work of behavioural psychologist Daniel Kahneman to explain the emotional pull behind “moment marketing.”
“Kahneman’s work proves our [sub]conscious cares about how we spend our time,” she said. “It actively curates our memories ... eventually deleting the obsolete or neutral memories and retaining only those experiences that really drew us in.”
Hack 2: From an emotional perspective, occasions such as CNY create positive feelings and a strong sense of community--an influential foundation for any campaign.
Keeping Up With Changing Aussie Attitudes
Attitudes towards Australia’s national day have become increasingly polarised over recent years. While many Australians still celebrate the national holiday with a BBQ, a significant part of the population regard January 26 as “invasion day” because it commemorates the arrival of the first English settlement.
For 10 years, a white, middle-aged, male sporting personality named Sam Kekovich was appointed “Lambassador” for Meat and Livestock Australia’s annual Australia Day lamb campaign.
“A big change happened a couple of years ago where the feedback from the broader community was that we should progress beyond the ‘un-Australian’ Sam Kekovich rant,” said Andrew Howie, MLA group marketing manager.
As a result, the company responded by creating a stir with messages of inclusivity in its 2017 Australia Day lamb commercial.
Hack 3: Acknowledging feedback from the broader community allowed MLA to progress the conversation about “what it means to be Australian” and breathe new life into a long-running campaign.
Prepare For Maximum Impact Diwali 2017
Every October or November, Diwali, India’s favourite celebration, takes place. It’s a time for family festivities, gift giving, and lots of candles. Large and vibrant Indian populations throughout APAC celebrate this lively festival, making it a great marketing opportunity in Singapore and Sydney, as well as Chennai and Kerala.
E-commerce giant Amazon launched its #AdjustNoMore campaign early, in July 2016, with a series of videos. The last video of the series went live in October. It focused on India’s hard-working middle class, who value Diwali as a time to showcase their appreciation for loved ones.
Mei Lee, formerly senior vice president, digital, at COMO Group Singapore, recommended preparing a campaign such as this about three months out from launch date.
“Starting a lot earlier in the campaign cycle gets you in front of the consumer as soon as possible,” she said. “Each country in Asia needs its own strategy, budget, and marketing mechanics. There’s no one-size-fits-all,” Lee said.
She encouraged marketers to leverage influencers who may not be well-known in the region as a whole, “but are very influential and relatable in their home country.”
Hack 4: When it comes to celebrations that span a region, constantly look for localisation opportunities.
Black, White, And Love In Korea
Why wait until Valentine’s Day to spread the love? In Korea, the 14th of each month is dedicated to celebrating love: Candle Day, Valentine’s Day, White Day, Black Day, Rose Day, Kiss Day, Silver Day, Green Day, Music Day, Wine Day, Movie Day, and Hug Day.
The unofficial monthly love holidays have been garnering greater attention in recent years, particularly with moment marketing of the quirky, experiential kind.
For example, many local restaurants take advantage of Black Day, which consists of black-clothed singles who indulge in black-coloured comfort food. With black coffee sales said to spike on Black Day, it seems any product or service that is black in colour could creatively capitalise on some extra sales this April 14.
Hack 5: Participating in cultural celebrations at a local level such as this allows marketers to find authentic and creative ways to capture the spirit of the event.