In a recent TED Talk titled “Understanding The Rise Of China“, the speaker (and author of “When China Rules The World”) Martin Jacques, stated that the main reason for the West’s failure to understand China is because we insist on trying to get our heads around the Middle Kingdom “by simply drawing on Western experience, looking at it through Western eyes using Western concepts“.
What is possibly more worrying for the Western world is that China understands far more about the West, than the Western world knows about China.
To that end, here is a possibly mind-blowing fact for the typical Westerner – in China, Christmas Day is not a National Holiday (shock, horror!). That’s right when nearly every Western organisation closes for the day, the Chinese are still working.
So what is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar? It’s the Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year, which this year kicks-off Thursday 3rd February 2011.
2011 is the Year of the Rabbit and to welcome in the new lunar year China, and its Asian-Pacific neighbours, have a party. Majestic lion Dances, red lanterns lining the streets, the giving of red envelopes, and fireworks going off all over the place make it a truly wonderful time for the Chinese population.
Alas a holiday, wouldn’t be a holiday without an element of commercialisation. Both Western and domestic brands respectively have been getting in on the action. Below, are just a handful of organisations who have created ad campaigns to welcome in the Chinese New Year (and of course try and make some big sales):
Pepsi & Lays
PepsiCo has teamed up two of its brands, Pepsi and Lays, to produce two interlinked commercials. Both feature Chinese celebrities with Huang Xiaoming (黄晓明) and Ethan Ruan (阮经天) in the Pepsi ad. and Lee Hom Wang (王力宏) and Angela Cheung in the Lays commercial. Popstar Angelababy (杨颖) appears in both.
Coca-Cola’s sub-brand, “Pulpy” (Minute Maid) fruit juice is extremely popular in the Mainland, and they’ve hired Eason Chan (陈奕迅) to feature in their CNY commercial.
McDonald’s ad features a cute five year-old girl copying her mom in preparing Lai See packets, but instead uses a similar looking red McDonald’s French Fries box to pass her blessing on to a younger friend.
A different approach comes from Haier, which has devised a CNY campaign called “Happy New Year, Earth” whereby the organisation has attempted to align itself with environmental initiatives. Check out the campaign website here: http://life.haier.com/
Numerous other organisations have created campaigns for Chinese New Year and already it seems they are working, as Chinese retail sales have reportedly jumped. It’s just a shame that like Christmas the traditional holiday has become so commercialised.
For all those celebrating…新年快乐! – Xīnnián kuàilè!