Girl About Globe | Moonshot for mooncakes

Linda Kennedy

Linda Kennedy

I spent much of last week at a fashion event in Hong Kong, where Chinese domestic style brands talked of global ambitions.
But, at this time of mooncakes, I’m struck that Chinese domestic festivals aren’t aspiring to wider recognition too.
Think of festivals like a brand. Which Chinese ones could most people in the West name? Probably just Chinese New Year. The Lenovo of holidays.
Back to the fashion analogy. Big global brands dominate the festival scene. Christmas is basically the Gucci of family get-togethers.
Mid-Autumn Festival can’t challenge such a holiday super-brand. But, as in fashion, people are always looking for something new. Could Mid-Autumn Festival become a niche celebration, for edgy pioneers, to brighten up that long dark stretch in European countries and north America between the end of summer and Father Gucci’s visit?
First, let’s remember, successfully exporting holiday brands is possible. Hallowe’en, for example. Ghouls went global after a big US push. In Britain, children used to go out ‘guising’; now it’s ‘trick or treating’.
Thus inspired, let’s consider how to export Mid-Autumn Festival, by devising a Mooncake Brand Awareness, or MBA, strategy.
First, I’d suggest China has to make some Mid-Autumn Festival branding choices. Who would be the ideal Western consumer? The mooncake, at its simplest, is a pie. It’s a thin crust, with filling. That carbohydrate form has been popular in Britain for years. In Scotland, it’s called the bridie. In England, the Cornish pastie. Greggs, Britain’s best-known pastie chain, has recently been reported to be selling sushi. It’s already looking east. The market is ready.
With such carbohydrate heritage, another obvious starting point seems to be distribution at football games, especially as some British clubs are now owned by Chinese investors. New terrace chant? ‘Who ate all the mooncakes?’
But does the mooncake, and Mid-Autumn Festival seek to be more high-end? If so, getting mooncakes into Waitrose and Marks & Spencer Food is essential, and would also allow the MBA strategists to tackle a big issue head on. And that’s the mooncake’s high-calorie value. We are talking up to 1000 calories a cake. Gulp. Or rather don’t.  In the health-conscious West, a high-fat festival is a tough sell. But if the strategists get it right, there’s an answer: have M & S sell a ‘Count On Us’ low-calorie mooncake. And pitch the ‘one-day fast-feast’ angle. Overall, a 24-hour mooncake-munch has got to be less ruinous to the silhouette than the entire Christmas holidays.
In the US: there are other concerns. Could China accept re-branding to Mid-Fall Festival?  Also, if Trump gets in, would this be unwanted cultural immigration? Mooncakes can’t climb a wall.
And is all of this enough to launch a new global holiday brand? Perhaps more is needed.
Here, using the very name of the product seems a perfect opportunity. Mooncakes could surely be promoted by the Chinese space programme.  Two manned missions are planned this autumn. How about a literal PR launch, taking mooncakes closer to their eponymous home than ever before? Might one of the spacecraft even be renamed the Lunar Cake Rover? Sky-high profile potential.
Although. Hang on. That heavy pie crust must be mentioned again. What if mooncakes were to defy weightlessness, and cause a Chinese mission to plummet from orbit? If that happened, it would be a diplomatic disaster. Shards of lotus seed paste filling turning into space junk would not please China.
Hey, no one said the globalization of Mid-Autumn Festival would be a piece of cake. But it’s worthy trying.  Meantime, writing this, I have eaten five mooncakes. My figure is certainly going global.

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