CNY Roundup: Agencies jump at the chance to solve pain points with creativity

Unlike other years, this year in the MARKETING-INTERACTIVE newsroom we saw a higher number of agencies showing off their creative prowess during the festive Chinese New Year period. From augmented reality to social campaigns, agencies are spreading love and joy this Chinese New Year. 

Agencies are known to solve problems, was the sentiment put forth by Terence Teo, Meet Isaac’s co founder – and this year there are tons of pain points when it comes to gathering and visitations.

"COVID led to the acceleration in the use of digital and technology for us to solve new problems which we have traditionally never experienced before. The team has always wanted to do a pet project where we could unleash our creativity and solve real-life problems, while having fun. So we when this idea sparked, everyone jumped on it. The announcement of the limitation during visitation could have been a real bummer midway of the project, but the team did not let that deter them, and instead, worked on improvising it to make it relevant and useful." he said. Teo added that given people are also becoming more comfortable with using new digital products, the team felt the time was right to connect, despite the distance. Cheering on the creative and digital communities, he added:

As we can also see, a lot of digital agencies are also getting better and more used to creating reactive content.

Andy Grant, ECD, TBWA Singapore also shared that the rise in initiatives by agencies could be due to the fact that last year was a challenging one, which inspired agencies to think out of the box.  “The challenging yet inspiring thing for all of us this year is that there are so many problems around us - from financial constraints to safety guidelines. And as creatives, we love to solve problems. Our Chinese New Year intiatives this year are about tackling a genuine problem with a practical  solutions - an economical way to jazz up an old outfit and a safe and fun way to lo-hei, given all the restrictions!"

Here are some of the works the team at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE saw:

BBDO

Acknowledging that Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day fall close to each other this year, BBDO Singapore created an interchangeable gif that shows greetings for both occasions. On one side the card reads "Gong Xi Fa Cai" which is a common greeting during Chinese New Year, and on the other it says "Happy Valentine's Day".  

"Using the Year of the Ox and the symbolic XOXO phrase commonly associated with love and affection, we created a simple way to commemorate both dates. A simple flip of the card turns the Chinese New Year greeting into a Valentine’s Day message - creating an unforgettable token that we hope will leave a smile on everyone’s face," a spokesperson from the agency said.

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Distillery

The team at the creative content studio is taking the social distancing cautionary very seriously, and has created a one-metre long red packet to help Chinese celebrate safely. Distillery has produced 88 of such red packets, and is making a limited number available for people in Singapore to get their hands on them and share with their family.

Simon Hern, group director, APAC told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that with the one-metre red packet, its creative team looked to maintain the physical act of gifting, but with a social distancing twist. This is especially so given the unique challenges Singaporeans faced through the pandemic, coupled with the recommendation of sending electronic red packets this year. He added that the idea was conceived as part of its annual tradition to send something out to its clients, as well as create content for its social channels for Chinese New Year.   

"With everything that's going on in the world, we simply wanted to put a smile on peoples faces over Chinese New Year, as well as demonstrate what we can do creatively," Hern said.

FOREFRONT

Taking the musical route, FOREFRONT has released a Chinese New Year festive track, in collaboration with well-known Malaysian singer, songwriter, and composer, Ang Chee Ciang. 

The CNY track carries the meaning of the campaign to embrace a positive change in the coming year, with an aim to spread positivity amidst the pandemic. According to FOREFRONT, the music video was filmed from the homes of respective team members, which its video production team creatively stitched together.

The track is part of FOREFRONT's Chinese New Year campaign. Titled "A Return to Abundance" or "转好运 庆锋年" in Chinese, the campaign looks to represent new beginnings, good fortune and positivity in this new year. The use of the character “” in its campaign name is also deliberate, deriving from FOREFRONT’s Chinese name “先锋”

To add on to the festivity, FOREFRONT launched a dedicated microsite which hosts a series of interactive content and giveaway details for the limited-edition red packets that the agency created. 

GOVT

Aside from red packets and home visitation, Chinese New Year is also a time where some uphold the annual tradition of offering incense to deities in the first hours of the New Year. However this has been made impossible this year due to social restrictions. In light of this, creative agency GOVT partnered the Heng San Tian temple located in Ang Mo Kio, to re-create the tradition virtually.

The agency launched a website named "letsgobaibai.com", which allows Singaporeans to reserve the first joss sticks to be placed at the temple on the 1st day of the Lunar New Year, 12 February 2021, at the stroke of midnight. There will be 88 joss sticks available for contributions between SG$88 to SG$1,288. A quick check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE at the time of writing showed that the first, fourth, and fifth joss sticks have been reserved. 

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Alternatively, the public may also pen down their wishes and blessings for Heng San Tian Temple to pray on their behalf at the first hour of the Lunar New Year, or choose to donate whatever amount they wish. According to GOVT, all proceeds from this initiative will go directly to Beyond Social Services, a charity that helps children and youths from low-income backgrounds – a segment of Singaporeans who have been particularly affected by Covid-19.

Lion & Lion

Also giving back to the community, Lion & Lion digital group launched a give-back store "GongXiRezeki" on Carousell to raise funds for frontliners this Chinese New Year. Through this campaign, which will run until the end of Feburary, the public can donate items to the less privileged. Lion & Lion has also started the ball rolling by getting its employees to donate their pre-loved goods in this eCommerce Store. All profits garnered will be donated to go Sumbangan Perubatan KKM, and meet the needs of frontliners, as a thankful gesture for their ongoing support throughout COVID-19. 

The initiative is launched with the intention of extending the joy to the frontliners in Malaysia who relentlessly battle the virus and selflessly work towards the care and protection of the public. Cheelip Ong, regional chief creative officer said: "As an agency, we are focused on delivering impact and doing the right thing, with creativity as our core. It is an honour to be able to work on this CSR Initiative with my teammates to use a fresh solution in the form of an eCommerce Give Back store to raise funds for our frontliners.”

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MediaMonks

Chinese New Year is often not complete without lion dance performances. However, this year, The Singapore Wushu Dragon and Lion Dance Federation announced that lion dance troupes have to apply for a permit, and are not allowed in usual public places such as residential areas, hawker centres, as well as neighbourhood business centre in housing estate including coffeeshops. To ensure Singaporeans can still enjoy lion dance performances this year, MediaMonks created an augmented reality (AR) lion dance that every one can access with their mobile phones. 

Once users access the link, a virtual lion dance performance will follow, and scrolls containing Chinese New Year greetings will appear as well. There are also different scrolls with various greetings that users can choose from. 

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Andy Edmonds, growth director, APAC, MediaMonks said the agency's goal was to create a digital activation idea for Chinese New Year in 2021, that showcases its capabilities in animation and rich media while also showing appreciation to its clients. 

"For brands, this is the year to be thoughtful and mindful of the current global crisis and how their customers are currently feeling," Edmonds said, adding that it is important that brands should not use this opportunity to be self-indulgent and pushing the hard sell. Instead, they should be considerate and sensitive to their audiences needs, wants and feelings during this prolonged tough period. 

"Digital is on the up - besides the shiny TVC, brands are building digital experiences from digitalised red packets with customisable greetings to virtual parties helping to bring festive cheer to those insides. Here at MediaMonks, we’re using AR to provide our clients with a personalised lion dance. Our hope is to remind people that this is only temporary and we can still interact and engage - with technology as the enabler this year," Edmonds added. 

Meet Isaac

One aspect that is different this Chinese New Year is the social distancing rule that not more than eight visitors are allowed in each household per day. Meet Isaac expanded on this idea and created a website "Dontsabo.com", which loosely translates to "do not cause trouble". The website consists of a Chinese New Year visiting schedule booking platform, where users can create an event and invite up to eight family members to the gathering. The invited parties will then receive an email push notification.

Besides that, the website also consists of an e-angbao (red packet) guide which shows a flowchart to determine how close you are to your relatives and in turn, how much money you should give for the red packets. Gambling is also a common feature of Chinese New Year gatherings, and Meet Isaac's website helps users to determine which lucky numbers they would like to put their bets on with a number generator. 

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Appealing to the younger generations, the agency also created a gamified augmented reality (AR) filter, which allow friends and family members to play together. The filter which is uploaded on Instagram calls for players to blink to avoid the obstacles, while helping the main characters Ah Niu collect steamboat ingredients.

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TBWA\ Singapore

Creative agency TBWA\ Singapore has got you covered if you are not in the mood to get a festive outfit just for Chinese New Year. The agency launched a do-it-yourself (DIY) limited-edition accessory range that can be used to jazz up an old outfit. This includes specially made detachable Chinese New Year accessories that you can attach to your clothes, such as a slip-on collar, a practical pocket, and "illusion" knots that adds details to shirts and sleeves.

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TBWA\ Singapore also made sure to cater to pets, and has unveiled a classic brocade mandarin collar that can be worn around a canine’s neck. This ensures that everyone in the household is Instagram-worthy, the agency added. All accessories are also packaged up in a classic CNY cookie jar, adding to the festive fun.

Tribal Worldwide Singapore

Another pain point Singaporeans face this Chinese New Year is the need to lohei (the tossing of a traditional dish) in hushed tones. This follows the ministry of health's mandate that diners should avoid shouting auspicious phrases during lohei, which is a common practice. To help Singaporeans counter this, Tribal Worldwide Singapore has converted the process to a virtual one through a mobile site that allows families to digitally add ingredients and toss the virtual yusheng, while letting their mobile phones do the shouting. The mobile app even allows users to choose what they would like to wish for during lohei, such as love, career, health, wealth, studies, and for their businesses. 

Tribal's digital lohei site was inspired by another creator "DJ Beng", who developed an app to that shouts auspicious phrases related to Chinese New Year. The original app, which took on a simpler format, also included different dialects that the phrases are shouted in, such as Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, and Hainanese. 

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VaynerMedia APAC

Jumping on the bandwagon of Instagram filters is VaynerMedia APAC. The filter is a randomiser that generates the different types of Chinese New Year commercial one may chance upon during the season. The idea came as the agency noticed that in advertising, there are many ads that follow certain tropes. Hence, the filter was created as a fun way to make light of some classic ways of advertising. Aside from that, VaynerMedia APAC also wanted to use its filter to spark dialogue, and since consumers in Asia tend to look forward to CNY ads and spot trends, the team thought this might be a good way spur discussions of some of these trends.

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Other than creating an Instagram filter, VaynerMedia APAC also created an animated gif for the year of the ox. The gif shows different functions of the agency coming together to form the body of an ox. These functions include creative, project management, strategy, production, client services, finance ops and media. In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Avery Akkineni, head of VaynerMedia APAC, said both the gif and Instagram filters were initially supposed to be used internally, but were eventually made available to the public. 

"Chinese New Year initiatives are fun ways to spread some positivity, as we celebrate Chinese New Year differently this year amidst the pandemic. People are also likely looking to connect with one another virtually since they cannot meet up physically, driving force behind the numerous digital executions," Akkineni added. 

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Which ones did you like the most? Share with us! Meanwhile, the team at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE wishes everyone a happy Chinese New Year!

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