Brands celebrating #CNY2018: Did your ad simply get lost in the clutter?

In the spirit of family and well wishes this Chinese New Year, brands in Singapore went all out to pay homage to the occasion, spark conversations about the importance of family - and push their brand in the process. Over the last few years, more and more brands are investing their advertising budget into their CNY campaigns. But with so many ads out there, how do you get your ads to stand out?

According to Francis Wee, executive creative director, Ogilvy & Mather Singapore, to cut through the clutter, brands need to stop looking through the lens of tired clichés, and start imagining. Wee added,

Unfortunately, or fortunately, no one really owns this festive conversation yet.

"We haven’t seen a brand that does for Chinese New Year what John Lewis does for Christmas,” he said. John Lewis Christmas campaigns have become a highly anticipated festive treat for most British citizens, young and old, always delivering a heartwarming story around giving gifts to someone special.

“ It’s time we move away from clichés. Most Chinese New Year campaigns in Asia are centered around the reunion dinner. And you can pretty much guess the ending of the campaign even before it starts. There is no fool-proof way to make campaigns stand out but to tell vivid stories that inspire, we should start moving away from conventional notions,” he said.

However, he noted that  Chinese New Year campaign by Apple was a cut above the rest. It was highly relatable and deeply moving where the spot follows the traditional tropes of a reunion story, yet the touching reunion between a mother and son was definitely not the typical family dinner you would expect.

Tim Cheng, chief creative officer at Grey Group Singapore said Chinese New Year ads have a long tradition of producing emotionally touching stories around the theme of family love and reunion, all tugging at our heartstrings. To stand out, brands need to go beyond just highlighting their roles in Chinese New Year tradition, but insert their relevancy into the evolving pop culture.

“Just like how WeChat had digitally transformed the red packets custom, we believe our CNY campaigns need to go beyond just emotional story telling. With all the available technologies like AI, AR, VR, CNY campaigns have to become something more useful, more helpful, even more playful for our audience, which are a lot more powerful than just reminding people to love their family once a year,” he added.

Here's a round up of CNY campaigns which caught our eye this year.


Singtel’s latest Chinese New Year short film titled “Mr Lim’s Reunion Dinner” hopes to encourage Singaporeans to celebrate the festive season with their loved ones, as well as preserve traditions amid the fast-changing society in which we live. Starring veteran actor Lim Kay Tong, the spot garnered over 8.9 million views, 145,000 reactions and 68,000 shares at the time of writing.


StarHub’s new Chinese New year Facebook video titled #NeverGrowApart celebrates the joys of giving back to family members who have been there for one another. It also reminds consumers to stay close to their family even as they grow up and chart their own lives. Since its posting on 19 January 2018, the post garnered over 1 million views, 1,947 shares and 226 comments at the time of writing.

Tiger Beer

Bringing back its series on CNY reunions, Tiger Beer showcased the story of David Lee who wrote letters to three of his children all based overseas. In the video, Lee talks about how much he misses them and how he hopes to see them too, inter-laid with the reactions of his children reading their letters from him. Since its posting on Facebook, the spot garnered over 414,000 views, 2,200 reactions and 408 shares at the time of writing.


This spot sees a young family going about their Chinese New Year activities with a taxi driver who begrudgingly accommodates their last minute pick up requests. The spot plays with a common Chinese New Year greeting called "甜甜蜜蜜" which wishes one to have sweet and loving relationships for everyone and pushes its latest honey sesame chicken flavour. The spot garnered over 88,000 views, 1,100 reactions and 145 shares at the time of writing.


This spot revolves around the concept of "", which translates to "good luck" or "fortune". In the video, a grandson is seen asking his grandfather about the word and why Chinese people always tip it upside down when using decorations containing the word. It then segues into a push for McDonald's prosperity burgers. The spot garnered over 127,000 views, 617 reactions and 125 shares, at the time of writing.

Burger King

To promote its new "BK Eat Huat Meals", which sees its chicken and fish burgers being topped with floss - a common CNY snack, Burger King unleashed this spot which raised eyebrows with netizens. The spot sees someone decked in Chinese traditional wear in the spirit of CNY and making a Chinese word using floss in dramatic fashion. The spot garnered over 175,000 views, 806 reactions and 140 shares at the time of writing.

Pizza Hut

In a bid to promote its Pizza Huat Blossom dish, Pizza Hut showcased a woman eating the new dish only for Chinese New Year-themed actions to follow right after. This includes the unrolling of Chinese New Year scrolls after the first bite and the appearance of a butler in a Chinese hat serving juice right after. The spot garnered 201,000 views, 303 reactions and 60 shares at the time of writing.


Addressing awkward moments felt during the CNY season, OCBC Bank took an opportunity to promote its OCBC Pay Anyone service. This saw our protagonist realising he left his wallet at home while treating his family to a reunion dinner at a restaurant. The spot garnered 38,000 views, 101 reactions and 38 shares at the time of writing.


Maybank Singapore has launched a heart-warming film that explores the themes of family, forgiveness and togetherness this Lunar New Year. The four-and-a-half-minute film tells the story of reconciliation between two sisters, driving home the message that conversations bring people closer and strengthen ties. Since its posting one week ago, the spot garnered over 105,000 views, 1,000 reactions and 563 shares at the time of writing.


This heartwarming spot showcases a young boy who is excited about Chinese New Year like how some children are excited for Christmas. This saw him running around with a small lion dance inspired mask whenever he had a chance to - showcasing a childlike excitement for the holidays. Since its posting around a month ago, the spot garnered around 251,000 views, 533 reactions and 92 shares at the time of writing.


Parodying the usual zodiac predictions which play on television during the CNY period, Lazada enlisted the help of content creators Youtiao666 to put a spin on the tradition. This culminated in a live broadcast where the duo goes through the various fortunes of different Chinese zodiacs such as lucky colours. The video garnered 21,000 views, 143 shares and 19 shares at the time of writing.

Gong Xi Fa Cai! We hope you have a great Lunar New Year! And if you have any favourites you want to share with us, email me at