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Companies use Lunar New Year to make inroads with profitable Asian American market.

Scene from iPhone 11’s Lunar New Year film

The Lunar New Year is big business in some parts of Asia. Two shoe companies, Adidas and Nike, recognize the Asian American market and have produced two rival ads centering around the holiday while an ad for the iPhone11 might qualify for an Oscar.

Lunar New Year is a massive advertising opportunity, whether a business operates in Asia or is trying to reach out to America’s prized consumer market, the Asian American communities. 

According to Nielsen, Asian American buying power has risen 523% since 1990 to $718.4 billion in 2012. If Asian Americans were a country, they would represent the 18th largest economy in the world, providing a tremendous domestic growth opportunity. Buying power in this demographic is expected to top $1 trillion by 2017 when all the figures are added up.

Focusing on the themes of family and homecoming and avoiding problematic messaging sets you up for success during this two week holiday starting Jan. 25 running to Feb. 5

The video that really grabs you by the heart is the one produced for Apple for its iPhone11 product line. It is entirely shot by Apple’s newest generation of its smart phone.

The eight-minute mini-movie titled “Chinese New Year – Daughter” start off with a mother being troubled by criticism that she took her daughter to work as a taxi driver. Throughout the film, scenes switch between older conversations and the present day, showing other conversations in the mother’s life.

Towards the end of the film, a family reunion of the three generations takes place in the back of the taxi. It is then revealed to the child the older lady is her grandmother, who made dumplings each year while searching for her lost family.

The concept behind the story was to show how there are big generational differences in China, particularly when it comes to the concept of family. The meaning underneath the film, according to Apple is “no matter how much we all grow apart, humanity has the power to bring us together”.

The film is directed by Theodore Melfi, who directed the Best Picture Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures. Cinematography is by Lawrence Sher, who filled the role for Joker, identified as a “2020 Golden Globe Awards nominated film.” Star Zhou Xun is also given a promotional introduction in the opening credits, described as “China’s leading actress.”

It is made for the huge Chinese market and probably won’t be shown in the American market. That’s too bad. With the success of The Farewell and Parasite featuring Asian actors, language is not a problem with US audiences. What’s more  important to touch an audience is story and human emotion, something this mini-movie has.

Adidas has taken a different approach. Instead of story-telling, the ad depends on music video energy, music, hip-hop and traditional dancing, beautiful models and dancers and quick-cuts. Directed by Muh Chen, the ad created by Haomai Advertisement features Chinese performer, Jackson Yee, along with an ensemble cast staging various martial arts and football techniques to a vibrant display and energetic soundtrack.

As we previously reported, Nike has released a short 90-second ad for the upcoming 2020 Chinese New Year depicting a Chinese aunt red-envelope tussle, one that generally occurs between friends and family during the festive time of the year. The comic ongoing battle eventually results in a cross-country sprint in which the aunt chases her Nike-trainer-wearing-niece across open land. It’s a pretty original concept coming from the athletic shoe company. 

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  1. RE: Companies use Lunar New Year to make inroads with profitable Asian American market: The Apple commercial has me in tears. They should expand it into a movie!!


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