Every Lunar New Year, Chinese people all over the world engage in a time honored tradition where money is gifted in little red envelopes known as 红包. While this tradition is practiced with many variations, generally family elders gift these red pockets to the young, who return the favor once they are grown and married. Thus the cycle of good fortune is received and returned in kind. As a show of respect, it is proper etiquette to kindly decline these gifts when presented, though also to eventually accept in politeness as a sign of respect. But this year, Nike has taken the game to the next level.
In their first ever ad for Lunar New Year, Nike tells the story of a girl determined to outdo her aunt. Every year the girl tries to refuse her aunt’s envelope, but each time her own display of politeness is crushed and her aunt’s wins out. But suddenly one year, things are different: she will not accept defeat. She refuses her aunt’s gift and, clad in her old-school Nike sneakers, leads her on an epic chase across the country and across the years. Dynamic camerawork captures all the excitement and fun of the chase as they run along streets and rooftops, through festivals, across the countryside. The girl grows up and finally accepts the gift, and the two generations of women walk home together… until the roles are reversed.
Developed in partnership with creative agency Wieden and Kennedy’s Shanghai division, the ad feels like a huge success for Nike. While many brands have been using the imagery and idea of Lunar New Year to launch new collections and campaigns, this film seems to be the first to actually find something meaningful within the tradition. With both humor and reverence it celebrates the uniting power of a small tradition, using it to tell a unique but relatable story. It also playfully explores the dualism of humility and competitiveness that exists within Chinese culture. No doubt the cultural sensitivity and relevance present here is due to a vast majority of the creative team being Chinese themselves, a crucial consideration that reveals the importance of honestly listening to the cultures and customs that inspire us, rather than carelessly exploiting them.
As Nike looks into the new year, we hope they continue to chase these moments that reveal the reasons why we run.
Agency | Wieden & Kennedy Shanghai Executive Creative Directors | Ian Toombs, Vivian Yong Creative Directors | Jeff Fang, Matt Meszaros, Matt Skibiak Art Director | Jing Qiu Copywriter | Liltree Qian Executive Producer: Bernice Wong Sr. Producer: Fang Yuan Producer: Angela Liu Account Director: Chuck Xu Account Executive: Larry Zhong Senior Planner: Chris Kirkup Planner: Bart An Comms Planner: Molly Chen Head of Designers: Fish Ho Designer: Helen Yu Business Affairs: Jessica Deng, Kathy Zhan
Nike VP of Marketing, Greater China: Steve Tsoi Senior Director, GC Brand Communications: Che Lin Senior Creative Strategist, GC Brand Communications: Flora Zhang