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The Year of the Dog: Brand Experience Ideas for Chinese New Year

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Tamsyn Barker
Tamsyn Barker

Executive Creative Director

Freeman XP APAC

How to combine culture, technology, and tradition

All work and no play makes for one-dimensional brand experiences. Our teams in the APAC region are noticing a rising trend: Companies are increasingly requesting Chinese New Year-related communications and activities. 

Chinese New Year events always bring big turnouts, with high levels of enthusiasm and participation due to the deep-rooted, shared appreciation of this festivity among Asian cultures. Businesses are using these events to say, “Thank you for your support” to their clients, partners, and suppliers. The shared merriment builds and strengthens bonds, enhancing the relationship throughout the year.

With the cutting-edge technology at their disposal however, some brands are giving traditional celebrations a modern twist, putting the “new” into Chinese New Year. 

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Digital, dancing, and décor in The Year of the Dog

Chinese New Year festivities are known for being a feast for the senses. Delectable food, enchanting music, beautiful entertainment, mesmerizing lion dances, tactile delights, and the air filled with tantalizing fragrance — each event is designed to be an engaging and immersive sensory experience.

To heighten that experience, many of our clients are not only focusing on the five senses, but in addition, are incorporating technology to add a modern spin on their events and to showcase their innovative approach to business. Some of the engaging tactics that the FreemanXP team have developed for our clients for this year’s celebrations include: 

Digital god of wealth

Guests will be welcomed at the event by a digital version of Caishen, the Chinese God of Prosperity. The face of Caishen will appear on a large LED screen and will interact with each guest upon arrival, responding when talked to and offering personalised messages of good fortune and prosperity.

e-greeting studio

Guests will be encouraged to take part in an immersive e-greeting portrait studio installation. In this over-the-top photo booth, a projection of mesmerizing animated visuals of the twelve zodiac signs will be coordinated with lighting cues and music; together they merge into one breath-taking personalised video take-away for guests to share on social media or with loved ones and family.

Zodiac animal hunt

Next, we’ve taken location-based gaming and added augmented reality to mix in the traditional zodiac animals important to Spring Festival. The result is Zodiac Go! The game takes characters that draw inspiration from the twelve animals of the zodiac and places them in the real world so guests can catch them. Playable on both iOS and Android, alone or with family and friends, it's not only incredibly fun, but there is a reward at the end.

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Digital wishing tree

Guests are invited to submit wishes via SMS and then view their wish floating on the digital wishing tree in the centre of the ballroom. All guests who successfully submit a wish go in to the drawing to win a lucky draw prize at the end of the night. The prizes can be retrieved from a digital vending machine.

Food of good fortune

Food is the cornerstone of the celebrations during the Spring Festival and the most integral element to the success of the event. Canapé menus have been designed featuring the seven lucky foods of Spring Festival. Here are a list of the foods and what they symbolize.

  • Fish: an increase in prosperity
  • Dumplings: wealth
  • Spring rolls: wealth
  • Tangyuan (sweet rice balls): family togetherness
  • Good fortune fruit (like tangerines and oranges): fullness and wealth
  • Niangao (glutinous rice cakes): higher income & position
  • Noodles: happiness and longevity

These specific tactics are indicative of a larger trend in the APAC region, where companies embrace the idea of “traditional with a twist,” taking advantage of technology while still retaining the importance of traditions. 

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Hello, Lo Hei

For our own Chinese New Year Celebrations, our teams integrated technology and the five senses into our celebration of Lo-Hei:

“Lo Hei” in Cantonese, where 捞 “lo” (literally mixing) means “tossing up good fortune,” refers to the ritual adopted in Singapore of tossing the yu sheng and saying auspicious phrases before eating it. It is popularly believed that the higher the toss, the better your prospects and fortune in the year ahead.

Before the tossing begins, the dish needs to be prepared, usually by one individual who adds the ingredients one by one in a specific order, while the reciting wishes of luck and prosperity evoked by the names of the ingredients used. With the plate placed in the middle, diners stand around the table to toss the ingredients whilst exchanging blessings and words of prosperity. 

Source: National Heritage Board

One of the ways we have made the Lo Hei more engaging in the past is to present the Lo Hei “On Dragon’s Back.”

Rather than gathering around a traditional round table, we produced long, curved tables with beautiful gold scales on top so that the Lo Hei was presented on a stunning long visual treat. One end of the table featured a 3D dragon’s head complete with billowing smoke emitting from its mouth, while the other end had an animatronic moving tail.

This simple, long-standing tradition brings our teams together; we exchange well-wishes, feast, and generate excitement and hope for the new year to come. 

Of course, our celebration extends beyond our teams and even our own borders, so we also integrate technology like Instagram or Snapchat to share the moment with friends, family, partners, and supporters across the globe. Taking advantage of today’s technological tools allows us to spread the joy of Chinese New Year well beyond our immediate surroundings.

The time-honored traditions of Chinese New Year are beautiful and have an enormous amount of meaning, not just in China but in other regions of Asia and even across the globe. 

By integrating the sensory experiences of a traditional Chinese New Year with the imagination-unleashing powers of modern technology, companies can build an immersive brand experience that builds bonds, boosts visibility, and strengthens their place in the community — at home and abroad.

Now that you've learned about these fascinating Chinese New Year trends, dive into our Trend Lab to discover more cultural shifts evolving brand experience.

{Download Now: The Freeman Trend Lab}

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