Mooncakes: What advertisements were like then

By Thammika Songkaeo - Thursday, Sep 04, 2014

We don’t really see a woman holding mooncakes in mooncake advertisements anymore, do we? Nowadays, mooncake ads focus on the colours, flavours and textures of the mooncake. After all, we now have such colourful mooncakes, especially the snow skin ones that come in pastel colours, that it would be a waste to not show them off.


But back in the early 1980s, before colour was prevalent in print, mooncakes couldn’t depend on colour ads as they were expensive. Instead, they relied on two main elements: the people associated with enjoying mooncakes and a slew of words describing the benefits of a purchase. Today, those ads would be viewed with more curiosity than anything else.


Kodak Mooncake Festival Ad (Photo credit: KF Seetoh)


So grab a mooncake, and let’s scroll through old ads for a bite of ‘80s mooncake marketing! (Note: click individual links to see full ad).


By then-film-giant Kodak : “Enjoy the Mooncake Festival”. Fine, this one isn’t so much about the mooncake as it is about the camera and film company, but it’s still fascinating to see how the Mooncake Festival was used by Kodak as one of the moments to snap. Notice how it’s about the people and the family. There wasn’t yet this local obsession with food, and Kodak wasn’t showcasing photographs of beautiful mooncakes, but instead pictures of children and families as what mattered most during the Mooncake Festival. Today, with social media like Instagram, that idea would have died a natural death anyway.


“Treat Yourself to the one and only  Chocolate Coated Mooncake and dine with Superstar Fei Xiang in TAIPEI” – That’s right. Visiting TAIPEI is such a big deal that IT MUST BE IN ALL CAPS! And yes. We don’t know what the bigger deal here was: the one and only chocolate-coated mooncake or this Taipei trip. It takes a while to figure out the real appeal – “Bite into a mouthful of the delicious blend of smooth lotus paste…” It will be your “first time in Singapore”… But clearly it was about that moment with then-pop-sensation and heart throb Fei Xiang.


Mooncake and Taiwanese Super Star? (Photo credit: KF Seetoh)


“Show your appreciation. Send a Noel mooncake hamper – Nowadays we often give them in just fancy mooncake boxes, but imagine having a whole mooncake hamper! What indulgence. Noel still offers mooncake hampers today, and the selections can be very international, with smoked salmon, Godiva chocolate, and wine in the mooncake hamper, too.


Noel Mooncake Hamper Ad (Photo credit: KF Seetoh)


Mandarin Mooncakes. Too good to miss!” – A woman clad in traditional clothes was there to attest the quality and authenticity! Her svelte figure overshadows the mooncakes somewhat, but it’s catchy. If the Mandarin were trying to concentrate on how truly Chinese mooncakes are, well then, they did get it right pretty right, in a way. In contrast to the 1982 “only Chocolate Coated Mooncake” ad, this version appeared to focus less on the novelty and more on the traditions. Either way, the woman standing there is still quite jarring even for today’s viewer (which will also irk the feminists). It’s hard to even notice the mooncakes in that ad.


The woman stands out more than the mooncakes in this Mandarin ad.


Magnolia Ice Cream celebrate the tradition of the Mooncake Festival.” Are we talking our first ice cream mooncakes before the now-popular Häagen-Dazs ones?! Nope, Häagen-Dazs still holds the title for the first ice cream mooncake in Singapore. Magnolia was just celebrating the Festival with its ice cream alongside the Singapore River (a bit strange, but yes, let’s all take part). Notice how the mooncake wasn’t even emphasized in this ad, which was more about the activities of the festival. Not so much a mooncake ad, but more like the Kodak ad, where a non-food company just wanted to join in on the love.


Magnolia wants in, too! (Photo credit: KF Seetoh)