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[French] Brands use the Lunar New Year as an occasion to target China’s International travellers.

Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year in China is the time of the year when people go back to their hometowns to spend time with their families. However, according to recent studies, the new trend is to travel abroad instead.

This is true especially for Chinese people aged between 25 and 34, who usually choose destinations where they can buy luxury goods, and sometimes bring their parents with them. Brands have taken advantage of the new trend, and have targeted China’s international travellers in various ways.

Visa for example, has created a campaign where which uses marketing itself as a way to pay for travel overseas. The ad is about a daughter who travels a lot, and her parents, who have never travelled anywhere, but are proud of all the imported products they own. The daughter then decides to take her parents to Australia, and they are seen leaving in a cab for the airport.  

With 300 million active live streamers in China, in order to capture audiences and raise brand awareness, US-based San Francisco Travel, has partnered with Chinese digital agency Hylink, and created a campaign which included promotions through Ctrip, but also live streaming of places of interest to visit in the area.

Department stores also targeted Chinese travellers during the Chinese New Year. Macy’s for examples had cooking classes and traditional dance performances, while Bloomingdale’s had holiday-themed merchandise, like a Year of the Rooster tote bag. Chinese brands also targeted Chinese tourists overseas, with New York’s Times becoming the favourite spot for them to place ads in Chinese, like for example Chinese milk giant Mengniu, and some other low-profile brands.

What about you? Do you usually travel abroad or are you more for staycations for the New Year's celebrations?

By Maria D'Innocenzo

[French] Celebrity endorsements in Asia: more than meets the eye

When someone mentions the words ‘celebrity endorsement’, it doesn’t take long to summon images of Jean-Claude Van Damme or Arnold Schwarzenegger starring in bizarre adverts. But as strange – and humorous – as these often seem, we cannot lose sight of the strategic choices behind them. Creative Culture breaks down some obvious – and not so obvious – examples of celebrity endorsements in Asia to gain insight into the popular marketing tactic across a selection of the continent's markets.

Will China taste the feeling of a Warren Buffett endorsement?

In March 2017, Coca-Cola generated buzz when it revealed that Warren Buffett was to be the new face of Cherry Coke for the product’s launch in China. While one’s first reaction Celebrity Endorsements in Asiamay be confusion, the brand’s choice of celebrity endorsement is actually a clever strategic move. Although Mr Buffett is the company’s largest investor, this isn’t a simple tribute to the American billionaire; the businessman is actually a highly revered ‘celebrity’ in China, and is seen as source of inspiration for his Chinese counterparts. He’s also no stranger to the Coca-Cola brand. Aside from the fact that he owns 400 million shares in the company, he is known for enthusiastically professing his love for the fizzy beverage, going so far as to claim that he drinks at least five cans a day!  The cans are only available for a limited time, but they’ve certainly succeeded in generating some buzz!

Bollywood goes West

 Taking a more subtle approach, the Israeli Tourism board has enlisted the help of A-list Indian and Asian stars to help boost the country’s tourism sector, which has been at a low Sonam Kapoorsince the Gaza War. Wanting to capitalise on a growing middle class in Asia and India, they have given their support to a number of creative projects in an effort to promote Israel as an attractive destination. For the Indian June-July 2016 edition of Harper’s Bazaar Bride, Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor was featured on the cover and in a multi-page spread. But the images were more than they appeared – Kapoor was actually chosen by the Israeli government in a bid to promote the country as a tourist destination. The backdrop of every image in the spread showcases the beauty of Jerusalem, with the aim of encouraging the magazine’s readership to invest their money in visiting the historic city. Its efforts must have paid off, because visitors to the country increased by 3.6%.

Beast-dol masculinity

Korean popular culture has a huge influence over the rest of the Asia, so it’s no surprise that international brands are choosing to feature Korean celebrities in their adverts for these markets. Male K-pop stars are often called “Flower boys”, referring to their effeminate style – they are very diligent about their skincare routines and do not shy away from wearing makeup. However, there is another, polar opposite kind of male in Korean culture – the “Beast idol”. These men are seen as the alpha-male, bad boys. Mentholatum China has designated Korean singer Rain to star in their campaigns. The adverts format the typography so that the brand name reads “Mentholatum”, emphasising the masculinity of the brand, so their choice of a “beast idol” celebrity was no coincidence. Although Rain has been the star of the campaign for six years, the brands decision to keep him on may have been more strategic than it appears. China is currently experiencing what they call a “masculinity crisis”, in which gender roles are less defined, and boys are seen to be weak and sensitive. They blame this, in part, on the popularity of effeminate Japanese and Korean celebrities (i.e. Flower boys) and are trying to change the education systems to ensure the boys grow up to be more “masculine”. By choosing a beast idol, rather than the more common flower boy, they are ensuring that their campaigns aren’t seen as part of the so-called “issue”.

Whether it’s blatant or less pronounced, more thought goes into celebrity endorsement than meets the eye. And when chosen wisely, the results speak for themselves. In some cases, being over-the-top might be the best fit for the brand image, but for others, a more subtle approach will do the trick. How do you decide? Always remember who you’re speaking to! Look at what’s going on in the local market and choose the method that best suits your overall goal.

If you are interested in our KOL sourcing and celebrity endorsement services, please contact Julia Locatelli on j.locatelli@creativecultureint.com.

African beer culture

African beer

We all know that Africa is famous for agricultural products such as cocoa, palm oil and coffee, but certainly not everyone knows that African beer also plays an important part in the continent's culture. African beer is not made from water, hops, yeast and malted barley, but from sorghum, an indigenous plant that can survive high temperatures, and maize, flavoured with hibiscus, banana and cassava root.

Usually brewed by women and consumed by men, beer was brewed by ancient Egyptians and tribes throughout Africa even before the arrival of Europeans settlers in the 15th century, who then introduced their brewing techniques and recipes to Africans. While some of these were adopted by locals, Europeans only adopted African techniques centuries later, when Guinness for example fused the best from both continents.

Beer drinking in Africa is highly ritualized, especially by ethnic groups such as the Zulu, who offer it to guests and ancestors in beautiful richly decorated ceramic beer pots handmade by Zulu women, which vary from region to region. Since beer is also consumed daily, and not just as part of rituals, Africa’s beer market is expected to grow faster than that of any other part of the world, also thanks to urbanization and population growth.

Consumption of beer in Africa is monopolised by global companies such as Heineken, SABMiller, Castel and Diageo, with the African market monopolising some of their global marketing strategies in return. In 2007, the African continent actually surpassed Ireland as the second-largest market for Guinness worldwide, which then introduced Guinness Africa Special, made with local herbs and spices, and brewed with maize or sorghum rather than barley.

It is remarkable that global brands are trying to use local ingredients to produce beer, including Heineken, which works with local farmers to increase their crop yields and always sources locally.

By Maria D'Innocenzo