Coca-Cola gives Chinese New Year characters the Santa treatment

Coke and McCann Guangming China want to brand "A Fu" and "A Jiao" as holiday regulars

SHANGHAI — Coca-Cola is famous in brand circles for refashioning Santa Claus in 1931 as the jolly character familiar to Western consumers.

For Chinese New Year 2015, Coca-Cola China is reintroducing two clay-doll characters, "A Fu" and "A Jiao," originally created by McCann in 2001. And in a move that echoes its Santa treatment, the cherubic figures are here to stay as long-term creative assets.

The dolls have been tasked by Coke and McCann Guangming China to embody the customary rituals of Chinese New Year. They are seen in the film helping to lay out traditional decorations and preparations, and will also be brought offline through product packaging with 10 different Chinese New Year greeting messages. Via China's popular WeChat messaging software, consumers can download them to share with family and friends as emoticons.

"Chinese New Year is steeped in rich traditions that honor the family," said Stephen Drummond, senior director of integrated marketing solutions, Coca-Cola China. "However, modern family life is swiftly changing. With many believing family is the most important value in China, we wanted our communication to take a step towards embracing those long established family traditions."

According to Tomaz Mok, chairman of McCann Guangming China, who led the creative development of the campaign, there has not been a universal icon for Chinese New Year. Even though recognizable images such as God Of Fortune are common, these cultural references are not "ownable" by a brand as such and are also less appropriate due to religious connotations.

Coca-Cola aims to use the clay-doll folk art to associate itself with Chinese New Year, just as it did with realistic illustration to depict Santa Claus more than 80 years ago.

Notably, clay doll figurines have also been a symbolic character in advertisements for the "Chinese Dream," a phrase promoted by Xi Jinping described as a collective effort for "national rejuvenation, improvement of people’s livelihoods, construction of a better society and military strengthening."

Campaign credits

Client: Coca-Cola China
Agency: McCann Guangming China
Project: Coca-Cola 2015 CNY Clay Dolls Campaign
Creative Agency: McCann Shanghai
Chief Creative Officer: Tomaz Mok
Creative Directors: Jeremy Guo & Hesky Lu
Account Management: Cia Hatzi & Grace Fong
Producer: Christine Chen
Production House: Gwantsi Production

Read the complete article on

Subscribe today for just $116 a year

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free