Chinese New Year Ads Explore the Tension (and Love) Between Parents and Children

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Chinese New Year, which starts Friday, has become a time for marketers to make ads about the importance of family and coming home for the holidays. But brands from Budweiser to Lay's this year are developing a sub-theme about the love and tension that co-exists in the relationship between young adults and their parents.

It's a global reality, but the gap between generations is arguably bigger in China than other places. Most Chinese millennials grew up at a time of strong economic growth, when people were trying new products, traveling to new places and thinking more about their desires as individuals. Many of their parents were born before the boom years, before China even opened up to the outside world. (Foreign products and brands were scarce on the mainland until the 1980s.) And China's one-child policy may have made parent-child relationships more intense; authorities began allowing married couples two children in 2016.

Here's a few brands with a statement to make about the parents and their children.


Budweiser's Chinese New Year ad, from Anomaly Shanghai, is about a young woman who decides to run a marathon in a faraway desert instead of spending the holiday with her family; she feels she doesn't have much to say to her parents. But there's a twist at the end. Budweiser's Chinese New Year messaging is about thanking the people who support you. (Last year it suggested a "double-clink" toasting ritual for thanking people.) This ad defies a lot of beer ad stereotypes, starting with the choice of casting a woman in the leading role.


This 15-minute ad is for PepsiCo's Lay's revolves around a successful actor who never manages to make it home for the holidays. In one poignant scene, his family shares a holiday dinner without him, though he's on TV. It stars Lin Gengxin, a rising Chinese star, and it was made by local agency Civilization and directed by the agency's co-founder Andrew Lok. Notice the family pet, a nod to the arrival of the Year of the Dog. The pup is named Le, or "Happy," a character in the Chinese version of Lay's name.

Dove chocolate

In this ad for Mars' Dove chocolate brand, a young musician actually does see her family—she lives with them!—but is so devoted to her craft that she doesn't pay them much attention. When her dad gives her a red lantern for the holiday, she barely notices. In the end, he goes to great lengths to show her how much he loves her. And then they eat some chocolate.

DJI drones

In this ad from Chinese drone-maker DJI, a man who wanted to be an artist relives childhood memories of his strict upbringing and harsh words from his father. A drone (and a piece of art) brings them together.

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