Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai turns politeness into a high-octane game of cat and mouse for Nike’s first CNY ad
The ‘hongbao’ - a red envelope stuffed with money - is a traditional part of Chinese New Year, given by older relatives to younger children in a family. And just as traditional is the back-and-forth pantomime that ensues as the younger relatives attempt to politely refuse the gift, in order to not appear grasping and spoilt (and to avoid a telling-off from parents later).
That the polite to-and-fro can resemble a battle of wills is an incisive cultural insight that Wieden + Kennedy Shanghai has used to set the scene for Nike’s playful and energetic Chinese New Year campaign.
The hero film opens on a small girl, who attempts to vigorously refuse her Auntie’s enthusiastic gift giving. Over the years, this antagonism intensifies until the girl – now a teenager – pulls on a pair of red Nikes (the colour associated with the festival) and sprints away, pursued by Auntie.
Director Steve Ayson, of production company MJZ, blends comedy and action as the chase unfolds. The pair race through factories, car parks, markets and paddy fields – and as the years roll past the Auntie even adopts a more high-tech approach by using virtual WeChat hongbao. Eventually the niece is old enough to return the favour, and the spot ends with her attempting to give Auntie a hongbao… only, Auntie has bought her own pair of Nikes.