Breaking taboo: Documents x Greatroam’s twist on Qingming Festival

    The two Chinese brands debut a boundary-breaking collaboration reimagining a Tomb-sweeping Day ritual with modern elegance and confronting taboos via innovative design.
    Photo: Documents
      Published   in Beauty


    Chinese luxury fragrance brand Documents has made a bold move by teaming up with local deathcare brand Greatroam to launch a unique fragrance product tailored for the Qingming (Tomb-sweeping) Festival – a ceramic censer shaped like a conch.

    The partners intend to help individuals confront mortality through inviting designs. Drawing inspiration from the auspicious symbolism and evocative imagery of the conch, the partners have crafted an incense burner that encapsulates memories and emotions associated with the festival.

    Netizens’ reactions#

    The aesthetic of this partnership resonates with Documents’ signature concept of chanku (禅酷), translating to “bold Zen” in Mandarin, which strikes a chord with younger demographics. Users on Xiaohongshu have expressed admiration for this innovative collaboration, noting how the conch’s shape evokes childhood memories of the sound of ambient noise from the shell. Although the social buzz surrounding the product does not rival that of Documents’ fragrances, the unconventional product’s reception is largely positive.

    Documents’ signature concept of "chanku" (禅酷), translating to “bold Zen” in Mandarin, strikes a chord with younger demographics. Photo: Documents
    Documents’ signature concept of "chanku" (禅酷), translating to “bold Zen” in Mandarin, strikes a chord with younger demographics. Photo: Documents


    In China, Qingming Festival presents a peculiar and challenging marketing opportunity for brands. During the occasion, Chinese typically engage in activities such as tomb-sweeping, making offerings, and paying respects to departed loved ones.

    While festival-centric marketing endeavors have flourished, brands often give Qingming Festival a wide berth due to Chinese consumers' reticence to publicly commemorate their ancestors.

    Even for brands that do roll out activations relating to the festival, their efforts typically revolve around creative concepts evoking “clear air and bright scenery” (Qingming (清明) in Chinese means “clearness” and “brightness”) or “spring outings,” sidestepping discussions of death.

    Traditionally, burning incense to honor ancestors is a key ritual during Qingming Festival.

    However, within the confines of traditional Chinese etiquette, death is considered a taboo topic, seldom broached in public discourse. Documents and Greatroam’s collaboration seeks to challenge this norm by infusing the practice of incense burning with modern design aesthetics, destigmatizing funeral paraphernalia that was once deemed inauspicious and integrating the act of “commemorating the deceased” into everyday life as a natural ritual.

    Moreover, by unveiling such a thought-provoking product during Qingming Festival, the brands are encouraging individuals to confront and dispel fears and taboos surrounding, and fostering more open conversations about mortality.

    Through this collaboration, Documents and Greatroam offer a fresh perspective on Qingming narratives, interpreting shared emotions and cultural memories with a modern sensibility, thereby paving the way for alternative marketing approaches within this unique festival context.

    • Documents and Greatroam challenge taboo topics by infusing modern design into Qingming rituals, promoting open conversations about mortality in Chinese society.
    • The collaboration bridges traditional Qingming rituals with contemporary aesthetics, offering a fresh perspective on commemorating ancestors in China.
    • Through innovative incense designs, Documents and Greatroam aim to reshape perceptions of death and destigmatize funeral rituals, embracing cultural evolution.
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