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Publication Date : 03-02-2013
Design, choice of colours and even the quality of paper all matter
In an annual contest that nobody admits to, banks, retailers and corporates have been handing out what they hope will be the most sought-after red packets for Chinese New Year.
From those already in circulation, it is clear there is plenty of scope for adding a touch of flair to make a hongbao stand out from the rest.
The design, choice of colours and even the quality of paper all matter. But few aim to stray too far from what people want - a United Overseas Bank survey found that 43 per cent of Singaporeans prefer hongbao with a traditional look and only 30 per cent wanted eye-catching and innovative designs.
Hongbao are also bigger and longer this year. Hopefully, people will not fold the crisp new notes put in them, and banks will be able to recycle the "good-as-new" notes next year.
Luxury retailer Club 21 is giving customers hongbao with an unconventional design - a dark pink and yellow snakeskin print on textured paper.
It was designed by creative agency Work, whose creative director Theseus Chan said: "The snakeskin motifs are relevant to the current fashion direction and also tie in nicely to the Year of the Snake".
Royal Plaza on Scotts hotel's hongbao with a coiled snake stands out with its splash of orange, chosen as a sign of vitality and joy.
OCBC Bank had some fun with Snakes and Ladders, and its hongbao includes a QR code that lets children download an iPhone or iPad game called the OCBC Yu Sheng Rush, which teaches them about the traditional raw fish salad and spending within a budget.
Coffee chain Starbucks is handing out red-and-champagne-coloured packets with a snake motif. Its managing director, Jane Lau, said: "Red is used as the primary colour as it symbolises prosperity, luck and well-wishes for the year ahead, while the simple champagne gold background not only allows the packets to stand out from the traditional red ones, but also allows the snake design to be more outstanding."
Credit Suisse went with an intricately designed red packet featuring a snake. Said its spokesman: "While a strong colour is essential, it has to maintain a sense of classiness and elegance. Incorporating gold in the design is important, but has to be of a muted or matte finishing."