28 JAN. 2014

Digital in China: Chinese New Year Edition

Every year, the period before Chinese New Year represents an opportunity for brands to reconnect with their local customers and boost their relevancy by associating their name to this most important event. This week in a special edition of Digital in China, we bring you the top Chinese New Year digital campaigns. We also take this chance to wish all of our readers a very happy Year of the Horse!

Drop your smartphone, share a Coke

Chinese New Year is all about family reunion and sharing intimate moments with your loved ones. This isn’t always easy in the hyper connected age where smartphones sometimes act as obstacles to real life interactions. To counter this, Coca Cola has launched an online campaign encouraging people to drop their connected devices. The campaign called “An hour to come together” calls on people to leave their phone aside between 6 and 7 PM on January 30th and use that time to come together around a bottle of Coke. To symbolize collective disconnection, people have to stack their phones to form a pile, something that many young Chinese already do when dining out to promote real life conversations over digital distractions.

The campaign is supported by TV ads and online videos promoting the campaign slogan “A coke in the hand replaces the phone” and playing on traditional Chinese themes of family reunion and filial piety. It also includes an online engagement component: people can post about the campaign on social media, proclaiming for the world to see their intention to disconnect on January 30th to come together with their loved ones. Every day people who post about the campaign can win prizes such as a Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch.

With this campaign, Coke addresses an important issue of the time (real life connections in the era of fragmented attention) in a locally relevant way. It establishes itself as a guardian of traditional Chinese values to strengthen its emotional bond with consumers. This demonstrates the importance for brands to match creative and planning talent with a deep sensitivity to local culture and up-to date understanding of cultural trends.

Gome gets Chinese adults to say “I love you” to their parents

The Chinese New Year holidays are all about love and especially love towards one’s parents. However that kind of love is seldom expressed. For Chinese people, expressing their love towards their parents out loud entails a display of emotions and an openness about one’s sentiments that goes counter to cultural norms. This is why electronics retailer Gome gave its customers a new way for them to express their love towards their parents for Chinese New Year.

The New Year period is always a period for gift-giving. Household appliances are very common gifts for children to send to their parents, even more so in the age of e-commerce and 24 hour delivery. Now, Gome customers can send a little something along with their gift: an expression of their love. After buying a product in participating Gome stores, customers can step into a recording room and record an audio message for their parents. Gome will then deliver the package along with the message to parents who upon opening the box will hear the voice of their child expressing his or her love and gratitude.

The operation is heavily promoted on Weibo with the hash tag #love can’t wait# and a tear-inducing video showing customers recording their message along with parents’ reactions. With this campaign Gome shows us how brands can use digital in a meaningful way to address deep seated cultural contradictions.

Lancome allows you to create customized greeting cards with WeChat

Last year we wrote about how WeChat’s new “service” accounts and open API policy opened up new avenues for more creative WeChat marketing through custom applications. Luxury cosmetics brand Lancome is proving this once again with its Chinese New Year WeChat app allowing its followers to create their own customized greeting card.

On Lancome’s WeChat service account, followers can upload a picture that represents the happy moments of the past year along with a voice message with their best wishes for the year to come. Lancome then compiles this content to create customized New Year greeting cards blending pictures and voice for maximum impact and personalization.

Lancome provides us here with a good example of how to use one of WeChat’s defining feature, voice messages, to re-visit traditional marketing formats.

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