What the Year of the Water Dragon Means for Our Industry

Feng-shui and numerology consultants see a time for business growth

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Another Lunar New Year is here and it is time to plan for the future. It is the Year of the Dragon or, more precisely, the Year of the Water Dragon. What makes the Year of the Dragon unique is the fact that it is the only member of the Asian zodiac that isn't a real-life animal. The other 11 creatures comprising the Asian zodiac actually exist; dragons, however, are just a figment of our imagination. (An interesting side note about dragons. A wide array of cultures around the world have dragons are part of their folklore. So we may all be on the same wavelength when it comes to mythical beings.)

After consulting with a few feng-shui and numerology consultants, I have arrived at a general consensus for what the Year of the Dragon will mean in the world of advertising. First and foremost, this Lunar New Year will be a time for business growth, job creation and even career change. Asian soothsayers are also saying that the Year of the Dragon is an excellent time to seek a significant advancement at work. So, if you have been eyeing that senior director position in the creative department or media department, here is your chance.

The Year of the Dragon is said to be a great time for business growth in both new and existing markets. What I really hope this means is that more corporate marketers, who have reduced their advertising and marketing budgets from 2008 to 2011, will begin to allocate more resources for advertising in 2012. If unemployment figures continue to drop around the country and as consumer confidence rises, perhaps the advertising world will benefit from a bolder dragon year.

If you were born in the Year of the Water Dragon, this is a unique moment that occurs only once every 60 years. And along with the 12 Asian zodiac icons, there are also five key elements that add to the mystique of the Asian horoscope. These five elements include earth, fire, metal, water and wood. In 2012, water is the element that is linked to the Year of the Dragon. In feng shui, water represents many different things, including wealth, health, energy, harmony and balance. But unlike the other elements, water has the ability to transform itself into many forms, including a solid, as represented in ice; a liquid, as reflected in water itself; and, as a gas, as rendered in the form of steam. Water also supports or changes the nature of the other elements. For instance, it takes water for things to grow in earth; it takes water to forge metal; it takes water to grow trees that produce wood; and finally, it takes water to keep fire at bay.

Therefore, for ad folks in the Year of the Dragon, expect a year for business growth, but with a lot of twists and turns. Since dragons are mythical beings, their personalities are said to change on a dime. (Sounds like most creative directors!) And with any sudden change, conflicts are bound to arise.

The water element also offers the following properties moving in 2012:

Water as a solid means that you will be able to rely on the solid relationships you have cultivated during the toughest times in our industry. Or, you'll regain a client you may have lost based on that relationship.

Water as a fluid means that your tendency to go with the flow must be challenged. In a dragon year, your agency will need to go against conventional wisdom and challenge the natural flow. Although you may risk the natural properties of water as a source for harmony, fighting the urge to be complacent and free-flowing will help your agency move ahead in the long run.

Water as a gas means that with the flurry of activity you will see this year, your agency or company will need to deal with internal and external conflicts. Blowing off steam quickly and effectively will allow your team to get beyond some of the hidden issues and agendas that have plagued your agency over the past few volatile years.

For those of you who don't know if you were born in a dragon year, each of the Asian zodiacs reappears once every 12 years. Dragons were born in any of the following years: 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000 and 2012. The last water dragon year was 1952.

Finally, as in previous years, I would like to provide you with a look at what different advertising agencies in North America are doing with their clients to ring in the Year of the Dragon. If you have other thoughts about the Year of the Dragon, please feel free to post a note. I welcome all comments.

Client: California Bank & Trust

Title: Over 50 Years of Commitment
Agency: ES Advertising
Location: Los Angeles
Creative Director: Billie Jung
Art Director: Linus Tseng
Account Director: Liza Legaspi
Agency Contact and Website: Liza Legaspi www.esadvertising.net

Client: Citibank

Title: N/A
Agency: Admerasia
Location: New York
Associate Creative Director: Orlando Lin
Account Director: Shiny Qin
Copywriter: Dennis Clemente
Papercut Artist: Xin Song
Agency Contact and Website: Tommy Ng www.admerasia.com

Client: Gilead Sciences

Title: New Year's Promise
Agency: Plan C Agency
Location: Los Angeles
Creative Director: Michael Lomotan
Art Director: Michael Jung
Account Director: Darren Wong
Copywriter: Tony Au
Agency Contact and Website: Giancarlo Pacheco www.plancagency.com

Client: RBC Royal Bank

Title: Dragon Dance
Agency: Dyversity Communications Inc
Location: Toronto
Creative Director: Patrick Wong
Account Director: Irene Tang
Copywriter: Doris Leung
Agency Contact and Website: Albert Yue www.dyversity.com

Client: McDonald's USA

Title: Year of the Dragon
Agency: IW Group
Location: West Hollywood, Calif.
Creative Director: Stan Toyama
Art Director: Stone Shih
Account Director: Flora Zhao
Copywriter: Ting Lin
Agency Contact and Website: Nita Song www.iwgroupinc.com

Client: Wells Fargo

Title: Bold Confident Year
Agency: DAE
Location: San Francisco
Executive Creative Director: Sunny Teo
Art Director/Designer: Gigi Lam
Account Team: Kavita Mears, Kelly Ko
Copywriters: Yvonne Chang, Dennis Chang
Agency Contact and Website: Kavita Mears www.DAE.com

Client: Western Union

Title: N/A
Agency: New-A
Location: New York
Creative Director: Tuan Pu Wang
Associate Creative Director: Kai Po Leung
Art Director: Yukari Ninomiya
Account Director: Nimesh Trivedi
Agency Contact and Website: Nimesh Trivedi www.new-a.com

Client: International Media Distribution (DIRECTV / SBTN)

Title: Happy New Year - Year of the Dragon
Agency: T.D. Wang Advertising Group, LLC
Location: Seattle
Creative Director: Tim Wang
Art Director: Abe Wong
Account Director: Rebecca Deng
Senior Account Executive: Tina Leung
Agency Contact and Website: Tim Wang www.tdwang.com

Bill Imada is chairman-CEO of the IW Group, New York.

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