A Digital Chinese New Year — The Spring Festival Gala

In China, it is a long-standing tradition to reunite with family on the eve of the Lunar New Year. A highlight of the evening is gathering around to watch the Spring Festival Gala (Chunwan in Chinese) the premier television event of the year. The annual program runs for three hours and consists of various performances including singing, dancing, skits, and magic shows. Drawing in 700 million viewers, this is a widely celebrated event that Chinese people worldwide look forward to each year. This year, the show is being broadcast live on YouTube to reach a global audience.

To encourage online conversation around the show, the host of the program has partnered with Alipay and Weibo to run a red pocket money giveaway. For those who are unfamiliar with red pocket money, it is customary for elders to give children money in red envelopes on Chinese New Year. Alipay, China’s leading third-party online payment solution, is giving out electronic red pockets throughout the Gala.

How It Works

By using the Weibo hashtag #Spring Festival Gala# during the show, you will be eligible to win an electronic red pocket from Alipay. After hashtagging to enter, you are able to take red pocket money from celebrities or brands. Alipay is giving away ¥20,000,000 RMB (~$3,198,000 USD) worth of red pocket money during this event. In addition, celebrities and brands can put money into red pockets for people to take. Brands can also participate by sponsoring celebrities, or instead of giving away cash in the red pocket, they can give away coupons. Below is an example of a celebrity’s red pocket — unfortunately, it was empty when I tried to grab it. He had ¥163,583 RMB in total, sponsored by Alipay. You can see who was able to grab money from this celebrity’s red pocket.

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Weibo has a landing page outlining the rules, how much red pocket money each celebrity or brand has, a countdown to the end of the event, a word cloud, and top comments. The Spring Festival Gala is easily China’s most watched event of the year, and the red pocket giveaway quickly became the most talked about topic on Weibo.

Spring Festival Gala Rules
Rules and Countdown


Spring Festival Gala Celebrities
Celebrities’ Red Pocket Amounts


Spring Festival Gala
Word Cloud and Popular Comments


There are over 52,137,000 comments surrounding this topic so far, and most of the red pockets from celebrities and brands have already been snapped up! It is incredible to see the whole country participate in the same online conversation on such a large scale.

The campaign is brilliant from both a creative and a technical standpoint. The partnership between the big players—Weibo, Alipay, and the Spring Festival Gala host—helps foster the success of the campaign. Furthermore, it also gives brands the opportunity to participate in the event by putting money/coupons into their own Weibo red pockets on their business page or sponsoring celebrities. The viral effect of the event would trickle down to the smaller brands as well if they participate.

Happy Chinese New Year again everyone!

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