The rules of the game

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[Hong Kong] Western marketers should opt for warm, sincere and courteous ads during the Chinese New Year, while steering clear of humor. "The last thing you want to be seen doing is making fun of anything Chinese New Year-related," said Donald Chan, managing director, Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett Worldwide, Shanghai.

Marketers should avoid integrating Western concepts of celebration with Chinese images, such as having a "God of Fortune" do high fives. Word plays and puns are inadvisable, as they are disrespectful and can be interpreted differently in China's numerous local dialects.

Cultural taboos also become stronger at this time of the year, so advertisers should be especially sensitive to images that could convey bad luck, and avoid anything related to death, including the numbers four and seven; in China's tonal language,"four" and "death" are homonyms, and a seven-course meal is only served after a funeral.

Most importantly, develop the right color scheme. Blue, for example, signifies death in Chinese culture. Aaron Lau, Hong Kong-based chairman, Asia and president-CEO greater China at DDB Worldwide, instead advises red. It pleases consumers-and their leaders.

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