BEIJING: Marketers have latched onto the Chinese New Year to create seasonal campaigns that associate themselves with the coming Year of the Horse.

"Some brands do this very well, some appallingly," noted Chris Reed, of Black Marketing, in a blog for Campaign Asia-Pacific. "All have to do it or just not be bought for a month," he added.

Brand consultancy Labbrand highlighted three that were doing it well, including Coca-Cola, the soft drink, Gome, an electronics retailer, and Lancôme, the luxury cosmetics brand.

Coke's campaign centres around getting people to put down their smartphones for an hour and reconnect with friends and family without any digital distractions. Labbrand said Coke was addressing an important issue in a locally relevant way and establishing itself as a guardian of traditional Chinese values.

With the New Year a time for giving gifts – children often buy parents appliances – Gome offers purchasers the chance to record a personal message to be delivered along with the item. Labbrands suggested this showed how brands could use digital in a meaningful way to address deep seated cultural contradictions.

Lancôme is using its WeChat service account to create customised greeting cards from voice messages and pictures uploaded by followers, thus, said Labbrands, utilising the app's defining feature of voice messages to re-visit traditional marketing formats.

WeChat itself has developed a social media equivalent of the traditional red envelopes containing money that are given at this time. A gifting feature allows a user to either send money direct to a person or, alternatively, to send an amount to a group of friends and let the app divide the cash randomly among them.

Tech In Asia reported that the Xinnian Hongbao app had quickly gone viral and would be adapted after the New Year to fit other occasions.

Luxury brands, meanwhile, have focused on the traditional red envelope, creating designer versions, with Vogue China editor Angelica Cheung observing that "Western brands are becoming Eastern".

Jing Daily remarked on a novel way of gifting money on the back of a toy horse, which not only ties in the Year of the Horse but is also a play on words. The phrase ma shang you qian can mean both "money on top of a horse" and "make money quickly."

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific, Labbrands, Tech In Asia, Jing Daily; additional content by Warc staff