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Big brands go ape for Chinese New Year, with mixed success

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Wang Qisheng | Xinhua | Getty Images

Every year global brands unveil limited-edition products for the Chinese, or Lunar, New Year in hopes of tapping the growing purchasing power of Chinese consumers. This year, as ever, some of the glossy products were hits, and others were big misses.

Falling on February 8th, the week-long celebrations ring in the Year of the Fire Monkey, a zodiac sign known for its ambitious and adventurous traits.

But some of the monkey motifs were a step too far.

Branded "ugly" on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, some designs revived concerns that foreign companies did not understand Chinese culture and traditions.

Click ahead to draw your own conclusions on some of the most notable New Year-themed products.

Posted on January 4, 2016. By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran.

Xbox

Xbox

The Lunar New Year Xbox One Art Series comprises eight one-of-a-kind consoles designed by artists from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. Designed over a two-week period, the consoles were given away to eight lucky fans in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

Apple Watch

Apple

Starting at $363 each, two exclusive Apple Watch Sport models are available until February 22nd. The Greater China region has become Apple's second-largest market, with revenue from the mainland more than doubling to $12.5 billion on-year during the fourth quarter of 2015, up from $5.7 billion the previous year.

Moleskine

Moleskine

The storied Italian publisher - it claims Picasso and Hemingway used its notebooks - teamed up with Hong Kong-based clothing chain Shanghai Tang for this limited edition series of stationery, which includes a hardcover diary and two styles of notebooks.

Louis Vuitton

Louis Vuitton

Called the "Vuittonite" series, the monkey motif on these bracelets and pendant necklaces is decorated with finely-worked strass, or rhinestone, and is meant to be a play on the brand's iconic trunk, according to the Louis Vuitton website. But the monkey looked too alien and "creepy" for some WeChat posters, according to a report in Singapore's My Paper.

Dior

Dior

The French fashion house released a limited-edition jewelry line similar to that of Louis Vuitton but instead of using gold chain for its necklace, Dior opted for red rope, calling the collection "Diorelita."

Nike

Nike

In December, the sportswear firm unveiled a pair of customized sneakers, with the characters fa, meaning "getting rich," and fu, or "fortune arrives," on each heel. However, customers were quick to point out that when combined together, the characters mean "getting fat" in Mandarin. Later, Nike also released a new Air Force 1 model with lotus flower imagery and the brand's Mandarin name - Nai Ke - sewn into the back as Chinese characters.

Armani

Armani

Giorgio Armani Beauty created a Chinese New Year makeup palette in China's signature colors, with a monkey imprinted on the powder inside. But it also joined Louis Vuitton and Nike in attracting the criticism of consumers, who found the case's bright red color too bright, according to My Paper.

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker

A limited-edition bottle of Johnnie Walker's most prestigious whisky, Blue Label, this blended Scottish whisky boasts hints of rose, dark chocolate and tobacco.

Chopard

Chopard

The Swiss luxury house's L.U.C XP Urushi watch features a monkey on its face, styled in the ancient art form of Urushi - Japanese decorative lacquer. The varnish is reportedly made from sap harvested from the Urushi tree just once a year, making the material especially rare. This item gained more plaudits from Chinese buyers than most.

Burberry

Burberry

The British company has an entire line of items designed to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, from scarves to trench coats - a bold move given that in 2015 Burberry released a cashmere check scarf that caused a minor public relations outrage. Embroidered in red with the character fu, the symbol remained upright when the scarf was worn, instead of being turned upside down to beckon in fortune, as per Chinese tradition.