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Made in China: Brand Experience Secrets from the Mid-Autumn Festival

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Carrie Tsoi
Carrie Tsoi

Marketing Director

Freeman XP APAC

How to engage the senses to create a festival-like experience for your next event

Festivals have been a major part of cultural tradition for millennia. 

In towns large and small, festivals bring groups of people to share food, entertainment, music, visual delights, storytelling, or commemoration.  

The most memorable and popular festivals delight all the senses, creating an immersive experience that gets people out of their own heads, filling them with pure sensation.

One festival that has mastered the complete sensory experience? The Mid-Autumn Festival in China. What is the Mid-Autumn Festival and what can marketers learn from it that will enhance their own efforts with brand experience? 

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A Festival of the heart, mind, and body

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. Originally designed to celebrate the autumn harvest, it has evolved over thousands of years into a rough counterpart to western Thanksgiving. Much like Thanksgiving, the Mid-Autumn Festival’s traditions involve all the senses. 

And some marketers are doing a great job capitalizing on it:  

Sight: Moon-viewing parties are a popular way to celebrate. In addition to the moon, festival-goers get to look at the many brightly colored lanterns paraded around, see dance performances, and of course, indulge in the entertaining pastime of people-watching. To share the same type of visual experience, American fashion brand Kate Spade created a clever sky lantern flying game app, allowing users to virtually release a lantern containing good wishes into the sky — a big hit with Chinese overseas.

Taste: One of the best things about festivals is the food. And the Mid-Autumn Festival is no different. The highlight of the festival is the preparation of multiple varieties of mooncakes. These sweets come in a dazzling variety of flavors from traditional to modern, sweet to savory. Starbucks capitalized on this with Chinese audiences by offering their own line of mooncakes, including coffee-flavored ones.

Emotion: The Mid-Autumn Festival is tied to the legend of Chang’e, the wife of a tyrannical king who stole and drank his potion of immortality. In doing so, she saved the people from an eternity of his iron fist and ascended to the moon as a goddess. In addition to this soul-stirring fable, the Chinese often use this time to celebrate with family and think of those who are separated from them either by distance or time. Intercontinental Hotels in Hong Kong offered an outlet for these emotions with a mooncake baking workshop, allowing customers to create mooncakes with their own customized inscriptions.

Touch/Play: Dancing, games, and parades create fun for young and old alike. Children get to stay out well past their usual bedtime. And Rovio Entertainment, a video game developer, got in on the fun, creating a Mooncake Festival event for their hugely popular Angry Birds Seasons game. 

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Let’s get festive!

Brands can learn a lot about brand experience from the Mid-Autumn Festival, or even festivals in their own communities.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, like any other festival, wouldn’t be half as memorable if it only involved one sense. Sure, mooncakes look delicious. But it’s the mooncakes, the storytelling, the family time, the music, the lanterns AND the dragon parades that create a completely immersive experience, allowing visitors to lose themselves in the event.

Take a look at your own events. Are you creating a truly immersive brand experience that delights all the senses? Are visitors’ senses, emotions, and spirits being roused, and all in a brand-consistent way? If not, then explore how you can make your events more memorable by introducing exciting new elements into the mix like virtual reality, hands-on demonstrations, branded food items, compelling storytelling, or dazzling interactive visuals.

The more you engage your audience, the stronger the impression you leave in their mind. And that’s something to make any brand feel like celebrating. 

Take our short quiz for personalized recommended resources to make the most of your brand experience investment.

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