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So many festive seasons, so little time. Which holiday should you spend on?

So many festive seasons, so little time. Which holiday should you spend on?

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 Any festive season is a lucrative time for brands. A time for celebration and gifting usually helps put money in brands' pockets.  In Southeast Asia, there has been a myriad of campaigns and advertisements surrounding the upcoming Chinese New Year (CNY). However, it is important to realise that this also means that advertisements will have lesser visibility due to the glut of content.

This year, CNY comes dangerously close to a few other landmark holidays such as Christmas, the western New Year, and Valentine’s Day which is coming two weeks after CNY. This naturally would mean that brands would want to advertise their products, taking advantage of these holidays to drive up sales. Nizwani Shahar, CEO of Ogilvy Malaysia shared with A+M that the Malaysia market is getting back some sense of normalcy since it was reclassified to endemic. With consumer confidence picking up, brands are spending again. “You can feel the immediate switch after Boxing Day when suddenly ad-land switched gears from ‘Merry Christmas’ to ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’,” she added.

Agreeing with Shahar, David Soo, managing director at PHD Malaysia shared that there are noticeably more advertisers this year - especially for Chinese New Year. While Christmas advertising tends to be more in-store or around specific gifting promotions, Chinese New Year tactical campaigns tend to focus on offers and deals to drive purchase.

On the brand building front, Soo added that a majority of brands opt for video ads when it comes to festive campaigns as they are able to deliver a more emotional story. “In Malaysia, a lot of festive messages revolve around family, coming together, forgiveness, paying it forward, and they’re best told in video formats.”

How do brands decide which festive season to spend on?

Adding to the conversation, Shaun Tay co-owner and CEO of FCB-KL said that he does not see the ad-marketing tapering off because festive seasons in Malaysia are peak advertising periods that help drive sales. Nonetheless, when deciding which occasion to bank on, Tay advices that clients start with determining if there is a relevant purpose for the brand to exist in the context of the occasion.

The main questions brands have to consider here are whether or not it has a role to play, is it able to create a narrative that is not only authentic but also compelling for the audience? “If the answer to the latter question is no, then it is white noise that both the brand and audience are better of without,” Tay added.

Soo and Shahar provided a similar insight, explaining that the best approach would be to decide if the brand's product or service has an affinity with a particular ethnic group. Moreover, when it comes to clinching the creative briefs, Shahar advices that agencies must also question the reasoning behind their clients ads. "If it delivers impact for the brand and value for consumers, then great! But if it does not, let’s not swim in the sea of sameness. Rather take that value to invest where the brand can be more distinct,” she added.

Creativity over media spend?

Often industry professionals will argue that visibility is directly associated with media spend placed behind the campaign. However, Shahar argues that media spend alone isn't enough, but a great creative idea is still what wins. “If advertisers and agencies can spend more time sweating the brief and giving ourselves time to craft the ideas, we would be in a far better place in developing impactful, eye-catching work,” she added. Moreover, client and agencies need to start planning for it much earlier versus rushing closer to the occasion.

“It’s not enough for an ad to be merely visible," added on Tay. "That’s a function of media spend. Good advertising has to deliver impact, and that comes from ensuring that the ad is provocative and compelling enough to create the desired behavioural change,” he said. That's why creativity remains the crux of advertising because while any agency can place an ad up on a media site, only the creative ones can deliver an idea that truly moves people and leaves an enduring impression on society and culture.


Related articles:
Carsome makes readers do a double take with eye-catching CNY print ads
Coca-Cola celebrates magic of togetherness with regional CNY campaign
Budget CNY video tells tale of silent love of Asian parents

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