Chinese New Year: A rising PR opportunity

October 08, 2019 by Leela Bozonelis

The year of the rooster recently began, and brands around the world cashed in with chances to promote their products and services. The geographic reach of these promotions is growing, going from Asian countries that use the lunar calendar to nations with large diasporas and beyond. Companies that keep a close eye on international media may find they have a chance to work this holiday into their promotional calendars.

Where and when it's celebrated

First, it pays to define the holiday's date and origin for professionals thinking of working it into PR materials next year, but whose regions don't celebrate it. University of Hong Kong professor Sun Kwok, writing for the South China Morning Post, noted that the dates on which years turn over are based on a calendar of Chinese origin that has been in use for centuries, and that while the day is also called the Lunar New Year, the year length is roughly the same as in solar calendars. Despite the historical association with China, nations such as Korea and Vietnam celebrate the day, too.

Brands take note

When it comes to PR and branding, on either an international or local level, there are opportunities to roll Chinese New Year festivities into the mix. Companies with strong Asian operations can use their local knowledge to incorporate age-old celebrations into publicity materials. Warc recently pointed to prominent Chinese payment provider Alipay running an augmented-reality event based on hongbao, a gifting ritual associated with the new year. The source explained that other brands such as Coca-Cola have signed on to work with Alipay's concept, building synergy and getting their products in front of Chinese consumers.


Know the markets

Of course, when companies cross national borders to promote their goods or services, they should be prepared to meet different media landscapes than the ones they know at home. This means taking advantage of Chinese New Year as a promotional tool could rely on deep knowledge about the targeted consumers, according to Asia Times. The news source pointed out that luxury product brands, for instance must consider online and mobile apps as information channels when they forge into the Chinese market, as this is where 80 percent of shoppers there get info about big-ticket items.

The international connection

Sometimes, macroeconomic trends can make it worthwhile for brands to approach holidays they haven't leveraged before. Campaign explained this is happening in the U.K., where the pound's fall after the Brexit vote has boosted the amount of Chinese visitors and tourists coming to the country. The source noted that January flights from China to the U.K. rose 81 percent year-over-year in January. A demographic change could mean a whole new audience for PR and marketing activity alike.

A world of trending topics

Companies hoping to reach beyond their borders and add holidays to their promotional calendars need to be especially tuned in to news from around the world. Becoming more active in international promotions means running an increasing risk of stumbling into a PR crisis or faux pas unless agencies possess media intelligence tools capable of parsing news from around the world, moving at the pace of the digital age.