River Hongbao 2019: A First in Digital Marketing


River Hongbao is one of the biggest and most anticipated Chinese New Year cultural events in Singapore. The event features an unrivaled spectacular international fireworks display, larger-than-life lanterns and cultural performances over 8 days of festive celebration. This annual affair started its first episode in 1987 and has drawn crowds of over 1 million visitors in recent years.


Marketing efforts were concentrated mainly over traditional media in past years, which has lost its appeal to Singapore’s younger generation – the millennials. The task was given to beknown on how to revitalise this 32 years event for younger Singaporeans and to enable these younger Singaporeans to reconnect with Chinese culture and heritage.

what we did

digital make-over (re-branding)

A spanking new logo, a fresh new website with interactive features and a young, vibrant social media persona reconnect the brand with the target audience. Check out River Hongbao’s official website, Facebook and Instagram pages for more.

here, there, everywhere!

No amount of content makes a difference if no one’s looking at them. First, we have to make River Hongbao known. We went on to put the event on every platform where our target audience is most active.

That led us to Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, Telegram, Whatsapp, Trip Advisor etc.

social butterflies

We are big on social. Consistent scheduled postings with engaging content strategized at different phases of the campaign is crucial in funnelling interest to specific event milestone and keeping followers engaged.

Kicking off the project in August 2018, we started from 367 Instagram followers and 4662 Facebook likes (with 0% engagement rate). The growth we’ve seen over the course of 7 months on both social media platforms has been nothing short of phenomenal.

At the end of River Hongbao 2019 on 10 February 2019, with interesting and on-the-point content, we saw a 2,460% increase in Instagram following to a total of 9,394 followers. Over at Facebook, there was an 92.2% increase in likes to a total of 8,955 likes. More than 100,000 people engaged with the social media platforms throughout the campaign.

making the connection

Keeping visitors engaged and intrigued is key to leave them wanting more. Here are 5 things we did online and offline to create that seamless engaging experience for our target audience.

1. Instagram Challenge: #RHBLookbook

Borrowing ideas of Instagram festival fashion and internet challenge culture to appeal to the age demographic dominating the digital space, #RHBLookbook Challenge was wholly conceptualized and developed by the team and fronted by five social media influencers to fuel the excitement and buzz for the event. With a simple mechanic to encourage participation, the challenge only require visitors to snap a photo in their best outfit at the event and tag our social media pages to enter. 

2. Canon Photography Competition: Moments @ River Hongbao

Organised by Canon and River Hongbao, this professional-level photography competition created much hype among the photography community. To further boost the participation of the competition, there were dedicated photo spots where budding photographers can make use of the photo spots to capture the best angles of River Hongbao. 

3. Huat Ah! RHB! Online game

A noteworthy endeavor is the ‘Huat Ah! RHB!’ online game that turned out highly successful with thousands of players playing the game. Coupled with offline promotions, this in turn generated footfall for the event as players would need to redeem their prizes at the event venue. In addition to the entry prizes, the game also saw strong competition between players vying for the top leaderboard position. 

4. #AskMasterHong

We wanted to have something exciting and fun for our followers to look forward to every week in the month of January leading up to the actual event, and #AskMasterHong came to fruition. Strategically packaged as the perfect opportunity to ramp up on Instagram reach and engagement.

#AskMasterHong is a straightforward Q&A with a fictional fortune-teller character, using the Instagram Story Questions feature. Followers would write in asking for their fortune for the year, and Master Hong gives his free advice about the followers’ zodiac fortune for the rest of the year. A delight for our Instagram followers!

5. RHBHacks Business Hackathon Competition

RHBHacks plays a pivotal role in garnering active participation from schools and youths islandwide. The result of an aggressive marketing campaign on social media coupled with Google search ads saw 28 participating teams from Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University, The Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS), Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic, Nanyang Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, and other established tertiary institutes.

6. Influencer Management

One of the biggest challenges with influencer management is ensuring that the high fees associated with influencer engagement pay off with a satisfying result. With a gazillion influencers in the market, who should you pick to make that investment worthwhile?

Together with The Night Owl Cinematics (NOC) – arguably the biggest local YouTube celebrity, we produced “Types of Characters in Chinese Dramas’ portraying fictional characters in the goofiest way possible. Within just three days of publishing, the video climbed the charts to be the #1 trending video on YouTube in Singapore on 21 January 2019. At the time of writing (20 February 2019), the video has reached 347,857 views with 629 comments.

Following the stellar performance of the video on YouTube, we invited NOC for a three-hour Instagram takeover on the River Hongbao account during the opening night. This strategic decision proved to be one that successfully propelled River Hongbao’s Instagram presence by increasing exposure and boosting social engagement. The Instagram Stories posted over the duration of the takeover garnered 600-700 views per story. 

visual communication

One fatal mistake digital marketers make is neglecting the impact of visual communication on consumers. Strong visuals help convey the marketing message without the use of words and sends subliminal messages about the brand’s identity.

We designed and set the creative style for River Hongbao 2019’s digital and print assets including:

  • Posters
  • Ads
  • Limited edition Bicentennial-themed Ez-Link cards
  • Instagram GIFs
  • WhatsApp stickers
  • Live interviews
  • Event photography and videography

be known for good.

Digital media just expanded the boundaries for reach, creativity and advertising for your brand. River Hongbao 2019 is a fine example of how you can make use of this new media to reach out to a different audience you have never been able to reach before and introduce yourself to the world.

We love to bring your brand and event to life online and offline. Hop over to our contact form and get started with a free 30mins non-obligatory digital media strategy consultation today, and let us know how we can help!

[Amanda Ong, Media Relations]

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