Celebrating the Year of the Pig

Tomorrow (February 5, 2019) is Chinese New Year, marking the start of the Year of the Pig on the Chinese lunar calendar. Global marketers in recent years have increasingly been embracing Chinese New Year in their January and February messaging and product releases, and that includes property owners involved in licensing and collaborations.

The most frequent type of initiative involves a Western luxury label in combination with a Chinese brand, character, or celebrity, as well as, in 2019, a pig motif. Some examples this year:

  • Longchamp and Tao Liang, a globally renowned Chinese fashion influencer who blogs under the name Mr. Bags, paired for signature versions of several luxury accessories, including top-handle, travel, and tote bags. The collaboration, which launched in January, is the latest in a number of pairings between Longchamp and Mr. Bags.
  • Vans combined with the Chinese men’s streetwear label Purlicue, led by designer Su WuKou, for a four-sneaker collaboration involving two colorways each of Vans’ classic Era and Sk8-Hi styles.
  • British luxury brand Mulberry created a capsule collection of red and black versions of its Amberly Satchel and Mini Seaton bags, two of its bestelling models, along with a scarf created in collaboration with artist Li Rui. The scarf design is inspired by traditional Chinese landscape paintings.
  • Gucci chose not to enlist a Chinese partner, pairing instead with Disney for a 19-SKU collection featuring the latter’s 1933 film The Three Little Pigs. The capsule encompasses ready-to-wear apparel, shoes, luggage, handbags, small leather goods, and accessories for men and women, ranging from $250 to $1,980 per item.
  • Chloé introduced a capsule collection with Indian artist Rithika Merchant, known for her designs inspired by global mythology and civilizations, for a Chinese New Year capsule with a pig motif. The assortment includes bags as well as a t-shirt, sweatshirt, sunglasses, pair of sneakers, wallet, and jewelry. Chloé and Merchant have collaborated in the past.

A number of labels also have launched Chinese New Year initiatives featuring proprietary rather than collaborative designs, including Burberry, Nike, Adidas, MAC, BAPE, Moncler, Dior, Ferragamo, and more. The e-commerce site Dealmoon, which focuses on Chinese-American millennials, offers a variety of limited-edition Chinese New Year collections from luxury brands, including some of those mentioned here.

It should be noted that there is always a risk of inadvertent controversy or offense when Western brands create promotions or products influenced by Chinese culture, due to a lack of nuanced understanding or other factors. That happened this year with Burberry’s Chinese New Year advertising campaign in China, which was dubbed as “tone-deaf” among consumers and the press there.

The celebration of Chinese New Year is not just a fashion and luxury lifestyle phenomenon. Entertainment One’s Peppa Pig will mark the occasion with two new global TV episodes in which the family celebrates the new year, with some markets airing the specials in Mandarin. The character is also starring in a theatrical release, Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year, in China and some additional markets, including several U.S. cities. Other New Year-themed activities in China range from retail activations on Tmall to marketing initiatives at Shanghai’s Peppa Pig World of Play, run by licensee Merlin Entertainments. There is also related merchandise, including toys and books highlighting the new Panda Twins characters, both in China and elsewhere.

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