Mother Shanghai and Inji Seo play with tradition in Beats by Dre campaign for Lunar New Year

Taking inspiration from Nian Hua pictures, the illustrations depict a modern form of fortune that values stories over money.

11 February 2021


In the run-up to Lunar New Year (12 February), Mother Shanghai has created its first campaign for Beats by Dre China, working with illustrator Inji Seo to subvert the traditional ideals of the holiday and its focus on good fortune. The campaign promotes Beats Flex and is aimed at GenZers returning home for the celebrations, as part of Chunyun – a period that sees the world’s largest annual mass migration of people for New Year. In a series of illustrations inspired by traditional Nian Hua pictures (New Year woodblock printed images that tell a story), the campaign spotlights how the definition of fortune has shifted over the past year.

Lunar New Year is rooted in tradition, the Mother team explains in a statement, and remains to be a time “when perceived status still matters”. The events of the year of the Rat have, however, made an impact on that, according to research by the agency, finding “undercurrent valuing experiences and stories collected as far more important than monetary worth”.


Inji Seo for Mother Shanghai: Beats By Dre Lunar New Year campaign (Copyright © Beats By Dre, 2021)

As such, each image of the campaign depicts a Gen Z character and tells their very contemporary tale of good fortune and success, which contrasts old-fashioned ideals and tells stories “of different kinds of riches”. For example, a pro gamer who, despite older generations believing his hobby was a waste of time, has turned gaming into a successful career; or a girl “flexing her muscles and confidence, proudly showing off her strength in a place where traditional beauty comes in a petite size 2,” says the agency. Another image shows “two love birds” being outwardly affectionate “in a time when relationships and commitment are the biggest concern amongst traditional parents,” and the last shows a content creator – “Instead of aiming for followers and profit, he's merely sharing his original (and sometimes weird) thoughts with the world.”

Seoul-based illustrator Inji Seo is known and loved for her vibrant, saturated colour palette, curvy and self-assured characters, and delicious details. All this comes through in the images for Beats; the illustrations are packed with intricacies to discover and take a no-holds-barred approach to vivid digital paint tones. Kim Liu, Creative at Mother, describes the artwork as having “Gen Z swag, attitude and surrealistic cultural elements”, giving Nian Hua a “modern twist”.

Mother Shanghai also worked with typographer HeFan and production company Hamlet China on the campaign, which is running up to and after Lunar New Year.

GalleryInji Seo for Mother Shanghai: Beats By Dre Lunar New Year campaign (Copyright © Beats By Dre, 2021)

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Inji Seo for Mother Shanghai: Beats By Dre Lunar New Year campaign (Copyright © Beats By Dre, 2021)

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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