Bringing Your Brand Abundance This Mid-Autumn Festival

From reuniting with relatives to munching on mooncakes, Mid-Autumn Festival is an exciting time which is celebrated by Asian countries worldwide. In Australia, it is celebrated by the over 2.6 million East and South-East Asian people, including 1.4 million Chinese.

Also known as ‘Autumn Moon Festival’ or ‘Moon Festival’, Mid-Autumn is the second largest cultural celebration (after Lunar New Year) falling on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar. In 2022, it will be celebrated on the 10th of September.

Mid-Autumn Festival is the perfect opportunity for brands to get creative with their marketing campaigns and reach new and diverse segments with an abundance of cultural avenues to explore. Retail opportunities are set to boom as this is when spending will skyrocket in industries such as retail, dining, entertainment, furniture, technology, and travel. Asian consumers will be buying gifts for family and friends – yet this window of opportunity is still vastly untapped by Australian marketers.

The lack of Autumn Moon campaigns during this festival is a true reflection of the one-size-fits-all approach that still has a chokehold over the marketing industry.

Stuck in the same old patterns, brands are yet to wake up to the rich cultural opportunities around them. Building relationships with these rapidly growing audiences has huge potential to provide long-term loyalty and revenue.

Here’s a guide on how you can tap into Autumn Moon to engage with the Chinese and other East and South-East Asian communities around Australia.

What is the cultural significance of Mid-Autumn Festival?

Mid-Autumn Festival has been celebrated for over 3,000 years.

It is also called Moon Festival because during this time of year, that is when the moon is believed to be at its fullest, brightest and roundest.

In Chinese culture, a full moon symbolises reunion and harmony, which is why reuniting with family has such special significance during Mid-Autumn Festival. Many people will often go back home to celebrate with their family and friends and share a meal together.

As well as family reunion, praying for good health, happiness and prosperity is also an important part of Mid-Autumn Festival.

How do different Asian communities celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival?

Each community will celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival differently in Australia, but the themes remain the same across all Asian cultures: it is all about family reunion and welcoming good fortune, happiness and prosperity into the new season. Each community can be targeted by the suburb or location they live in.

Chinese community

Autumn Moon, which is also known as Zhōngqiū Jié (simplified Chinese: 中秋节; traditional Chinese: 中秋節) in Mandarin, is widely celebrated by Chinese people. There are almost 1.4 million Chinese in Australia, and it came out to be the fifth most common ancestry according to the 2021 Census – making Mid-Autumn Festival an incredible opportunity to connect with this large audience.

The Chinese community will typically celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival by worshipping the full moon and eating mooncakes. Chinese mooncakes are very significant in Chinese culture because of their lucky round shape symbolising the moon. Mooncakes often come in beautiful ornately decorated presentation boxes that are gifted to family and friends.

Other common traditions include gathering with family for a banquet and lighting and hanging up paper lanterns made out of bamboo strips. Meanwhile, traditional lion and dragon dances play an important role in Chinese culture and are often performed on the night of Mid-Autumn Festival to the thundering sound of traditional drums. With Moon Festival having deep traditional significance in Chinese culture, Brands cannot afford to lose out on engaging with the Chinese community during this time.

Korean community

The Mid-Autumn Festival is known as Chuseok (추석 / 秋夕; Autumn Eve) in South Korea. It is equivalent to Thanksgiving in America and is celebrated across three days. There are more than 136,000 Koreans in Australia. Koreans will celebrate Chuseok by travelling back home to spend time with their families, hosting a worshipping ceremony at home for their ancestors, and sweeping the tombs of their ancestors. These ceremonies will involve conducting a charye, a traditional tea ritual, to pay their deepest respects to ancestors.

Of course, Chuseok celebrations are not complete without food – and there is plenty to go around on Korean Thanksgiving. Koreans will prepare food items such as songpyeon (a Korean rice cake filled with sweet sesame seeds), jeon (a Korean pancake stuffed with kimchi, meat and vegetables), newly harvested grains and fruit, taro soup, and semi-moon-shaped muffins in the morning of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Japanese community

The Japanese word for Moon Festival is Tsukimi (月見; ‘moon viewing’), and it is celebrated on the same day on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. The Japanese, which represent a community of 78,000 people in Australia, will celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival by decorating their houses or street with pampas grass or susuki to ward off evil spirits.

Instead of mooncakes, they will also eat iconic rabbit-shaped Tsukimi Dango, which are sweet rice dumplings, to ring in good health and prosperity. A small pyramid of 15 moon-like dango will be put on display to signify the 15th day of the month, or 12 to represent the number of months in a year. Holding tea ceremonies, traditional dances, poetry readings from the Heian era, and drumming performances further make up the line-up of auspicious traditions which characterise Japanese Moon Festival celebrations.

Vietnamese community

Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival, also called Têt Trung Thu or ‘Children’s Festival’, is a day that is specially devoted to children. Smiling children will carry vibrantly coloured carp-shaped lanterns and parade the streets on the night of Autumn Moon. Lions form glittering red trails on the streets as their sequined bodies twist and turn surrounded by bustling crowds.

In Vietnamese culture, people will also celebrate Têt Trung Thu by feasting on elaborately moulded mooncakes with geometric patterns and presenting a five-fruit tray and cakes on the ancestral altar. Coming in both sweet and savoury flavours, ornate boxes of mooncakes called bánh trung thu are purchased to gift to family and friends. Foods such as bánh dẻo, a mochi-like soft and sticky cake are further enjoyed by the over 334,000 Vietnamese Australian community during Mid-Autumn Festival.

Brands celebrating Autumn Moon. Are you going to be one of them in 2022?

Despite COVID lockdown, there were many inspirational Mid-Autumn Festival campaigns that were launched in 2020 and 2021. Here are some brands which connected with their audiences and their cultural celebrations during Autumn Moon.

1 .  Hennessy: Kindling family reunions

Source: Hennessy

Hennessy’s Mid-Autumn Festival 2020 campaign told a story about family and friends gathering together and cherishing precious moments. As part of the campaign, Hennessy released a video featuring a small party with family and friends. The video highlighted how Hennessy’s exclusive cognacs were more than just beverages; they were a bonding experience that brought loved ones closer. The campaign featured two limited edition Mid-Autumn Festival mooncake gift boxes accompanied by Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège and Hennessy X.O to celebrate reconnections with family and friends.  “With You Always” is a wonderful message by any brand and resonates in its inclusivity with diverse audiences.

2 .  Mondelez Kinh Do: Bringing family memories to life

Mondelez Kinh Do brought family photographs to life for their Kinh Do mooncakes in their 2021 Moon Festival campaign. Kinh Do created a new genealogy platform leveraging artificial intelligence where old photos of ancestors are animated – people can see their ancestors smile, blink and even turn their heads as they come to life. The campaign used digital technology and AI to connect with audiences who are steeped in their culture and respect their ancestors. The subtle fusion of technology with cultural understanding sets aside this campaign in its cultural connectivity with Asian audiences.

3 .  Starbucks Malaysia: An ode to nostalgia through mooncakes

Source: Christy Ng

For their 2021 Mid-Autumn Festival campaign, Starbucks Malaysia launched a specially designed limited-edition mooncake giftbox and tote bag in collaboration with local designer Christy Ng. They released a Mid-Autumn Festival campaign video unveiling the bag design which was emblazoned with yellow cranes and floral motifs. The bag tells the story of the Crane bringing Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess celebrated in the Mid-Autumn Festival legend, an Osmanthus flower from earth to ease her longing and nostalgia for home. Starbucks’ campaign was hugely successful and showed the unifying power of mooncakes in reconciling family and friends during Mid-Autumn Festival. Weaving in the Autumn Moon tale through a present-day designer’s magical motifs created an outstanding campaign.

Does 3 million people (by ancestry) in Australia celebrating Autumn Moon matter to marketers? Going by the campaigns that we see around us, Australian marketers are yet to discover these 3 million people who could possibly be some of their most loyal customers in times to come.

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