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Western brands face CNY mockery

News, 08 February 2016

SHANGHAI: Chinese social media users are levelling mockery at luxury brands as they release Chinese New Year products to capitalise on the biggest holiday of the year.

The Chinese New Year holiday traditionally sees a deluge of seasonal new releases from brands across the price spectrum targeted at the lucrative mainland China market.

2016's Year of The Monkey is no different with monkey-themed paraphernalia now available in luxury stores across Asia. But Western brands attempting to co-opt Chinese traditions have drawn some criticism.

Chinese social media users are mocking Western brands for reductive takes on Chinese symbolism and culture that many young people in the country see as passé – while charging a premium too.

Widely mocked new products include a monkey pendant necklace by Louis Vuitton, Estee Lauder's limited-edition Monkey Powder Compact and Piaget's aesthetically questionable watch featuring a monkey holding a peach, The Straits Times reported.

Nike, one of China's most popular brands, made perhaps the most high profile cultural faux pas when it released trainers for Year of The Monkey with a traditional Chinese character 發 ("Fa" meaning getting richer) on one shoe, and 福 ("Fu" meaning fortune arrives) on the other.

While both characters are widely used during Chinese New Year, combining them together to make "Fa Fu" means getting fat, an error sparking great entertainment on Chinese social media.

This may be regrettable as Chinese New Year, the peak shopping season of the year, offers an upshot in sales for luxury brands in particular, which are slowing as China's economy weakens.

The Year of The Dragon, the most auspicious animal in the Chinese zodiac, and The Year of The Horse are traditionally the most popular with Chinese shoppers.

Data sourced from Straits Times, Chinaskinny; additional content by Warc staff