As China gears up for the Year of the Wood Dragon, brands are unleashing festive campaigns designed to ignite emotional engagement and drive holiday spending.
Eschewing the usual auspicious and nostalgic storylines, Canadian athletic apparel brand Lululemon has launched a Year of the Dragon short film titled “Be Spring.” The film delves into the pursuit of wellbeing and “eternal spring” through the perspective of Eastern culture and spirituality.
To bring this to life, the brand has partnered with the artistic team and dancers from the acclaimed Shenzhen dance drama, “Wing Chun.” Headlining the campaign is Academy Award-winning actress Michelle Yeoh, who appeared in the martial arts movie Wing Chun 30 years ago.
“Be Spring” celebrates the season as a symbol of new beginnings. It draws a connection to personal wellbeing through the philosophy of balancing mind and body to cultivate “eternal spring” in our everyday lives.
“At Lululemon, we believe that everyone has the right to be well, and we are committed to the advocacy of wellbeing,” says Lynn Cheah, Vice President of Brand Marketing & Community at Lululemon China.
Lululemon has championed wellbeing since 2021, and in 2023, it introduced the concept of "Wellbeing in the New Year,” featuring reunions among loved ones. The 2024 short film creates deeper ripples. “This new year, we wanted to explore wellbeing through the lens of Eastern culture — our essence, our energy, and our spirit,” adds Cheah.
The project brought together young director Fan Qing, choreographer Lv Chengliang, a second-generation Wing Chun master, along with dancers and artistic consultants from the Shenzhen Opera and Dance Theater, which is the producer of “Wing Chun.”
The dance drama “Wing Chun” is a contemporary interpretation of traditional culture, presenting Chinese martial arts in the form of dance. After receiving acclaim across China, the show is set to tour internationally in 2024. Together with Michelle Yeoh, the dance troupe delivered inspiring performances in the brand film that captured the essence of “Be Spring.”
Filmed in bucolic Chinese villages around Jingning and Xiandu, against a backdrop of blossoms, traditional architecture, and mountains, the film juxtaposes Yeoh’s monologue with the graceful gazelle-like leaps and port de bras of the Chinese dancers.
“Having our inner spring all year round is our superpower,” says Yeoh.
Dancers wear red-tone designs from the Lululemon Year of Dragon Capsule, incorporating subtle Chinese cues such as overlapping dragon scales and traditional architectural motifs. Festive and versatile, the capsule pieces, like the glossy Satin Balloon-Sleeve Jacket, are perfect for all occasions.
Well-loved Lululemon product series like the Align, Scuba, and Wunder Puff have also been reimagined in this season’s color palette, designed to be worn in and out of the studio.
Yet, the looks are often overshadowed by the dancers, scenery, and message. The film campaign mesmerizes Chinese viewers through its exploration of traditional culture, arts, and spirituality, as well as its inspiring message on personal wellbeing — a growing topic of interest among Chinese consumers and worldwide audiences.
In a 2023 report, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) valued the global wellness economy at $5.6 trillion in 2022. With a projected annual growth rate of 8.6 percent, the market is expected to reach $8.5 trillion in 2027, nearly double its size in 2020. McKinsey & Company says that both physical and mental health will remain a priority for global consumers “for a long time to come.”
In September 2023, Lululemon released its annual Global Wellbeing Report, which highlighted troubling findings. While over 67 percent of respondents said they prioritize their wellbeing, only 12 percent believed theirs was at the desired level, and 34 percent reported lower wellbeing than before.
For the first time, the brand also published a dedicated mainland China report, revealing that the wellbeing ratings of respondents in China exceed the global average, reflecting generally more optimism about the future. However, variations exist among different demographics, with lower ratings reported among males and Gen Z.
Upholding its vision of “wellbeing for all,” Lululemon aims to enhance wellbeing across three dimensions: physical, mental, and social. This ambitious goal has inspired a locally strategized mix of experiential events, ambassador-led community building, and creative campaigns linked to cultural moments. This approach seeks to amplify the brand's exposure and vision in China, its second-largest market.
For the past three years, in conjunction with World Mental Health Day, Lululemon has conducted its ‘Wellbeing for All’ initiative, inspiring the Chinese public to action. In October 2023, the Wellbeing Roll-out Gallery at Shanghai’s West Bund featured a week-long program of movement sessions, conversations, and large-scale public art installations. Lululemon also extended the message to guests at its over 100 stores nationwide.
Another annual community event, the Summer Sweat Games, aligns with China’s National Fitness Day and runs for two months. The 2023 event expanded to over 100 stores in 36 cities across mainland China and involved a team competition of physical challenges themed around “fun, sweat and connection,” culminating in regional and national finals.
In August, to celebrate Qixi or Chinese Valentine’s Day, Lululemon collaborated with a Chinese psychology expert to launch a pocket-sized brochure as a gift to consumers who purchased its limited-edition products. The brochure encouraged the exploration of wellbeing from a social dimension.
Lululemon maintains a strong following on account of its high-quality products and successful brand activations. In a competitive activewear market, the brand understands that by going the extra mile to connect creatively and build local communities, it can help consumers feel their best from the inside out. And ultimately, that’s what people crave.
Presented by Lululemon.