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Digital in China: Coach, Alipay, Nescafé

Nescafe white coffee
Digital in China: Coach, Alipay, Nescafé

11.23.2012

Coach joins We Chat

The mobile instant messaging/mobile network application Weixin (known in the West as We Chat) is taking the country by storm and has recently opened its platform to brands that have been busy testing the waters over the last couple of months. Participating brands include Adidas, Nike and Starbucks; all mass market brands with a broad audience for whom acting as pioneers on this relatively new and untested platform carries little risk.

Late last month however, these mass-reach brands were joined by the American luxury brand Coach that announced the launch of its We Chat account on its Weibo page (thus setting a good example of how brands should maximize the impact of their online operations through cross-platform promotion). Coach, a brand with a solid track record of successfully using digital platforms in China, is just about to launch a revamped e-commerce website and has taken to We Chat to create a more personal communication channel with its fans.

After adding the brand account to their address book, fans can directly chose what kind of content they would like. By sending “1”, they will receive news about the collaboration between Coach and canto-pop star Wang Lee Hom. By sending “2”, they will receive information about Coach’s new “Legacy” line of products along with a link to the brand’s e-commerce website (that can be browsed directly inside the application without having to open a mobile browser).

Coach’s joining We Chat marks an important milestone. If successful, it will set an example for other prestige brands and will further bolster We Chat’s credibility as a high-potential marketing channel.

Alipay nurtures its brand with moving web video

The Chinese Internet scene is unique in many ways. One of them is the capacity of Chinese tech companies to not only build quality web products but also create brands to support them. For instance, while Facebook just released its first ads, RenRen has long since been building its brand through print and TV ads centered on the idea of connecting with old friends.

Recently, Alipay confirmed Chinese tech companies’ talent for brand building with its new web-video titled “Keys auntie” (钥匙阿姨 in Chinese). The 3-minute long video is based on the true story of a middle age Chinese lady who for 10 years acted as the handyman and guardian angel of her traditional Chinese neighborhood. Through the years she earned the complete trust of her neighbor’s who all left her a spare of their keys, hence the “Keys auntie” nickname. Through the tales of “Keys auntie’s” selfless devotion to others, the short movie shows the value of trust and of having a constant presence on which one can rely.

The message is subtly crafted but nonetheless clear: just as neighbors trusted “Keys auntie”, Chinese netizens can trust Alipay for any type of online payment. And figures suggest that they indeed do: Alipay has over 650 million registered accounts and is the undisputed leader in online and mobile payments.

Nescafe enrolls Mike Sui as new brand spokesperson in latest Weibo campaign

The importance of social media in China and its impact on popular culture create the ideal condition for the emergence of web celebrities. One of these celebrities is comedian Mike Sui, an American born Chinese who rose to Internet stardom this summer after a video of him imitating the accents of foreigners speaking Chinese gathered hundreds of millions of views.

Nescafe recently decided to capitalize on Mike Sui’s celebrity by featuring him in its latest Weibo campaign promoting its “White coffee” (白咖啡) brand of instant coffee. The Weibo application features an interactive flash video featuring Mike Sui that engages netizens to “experience” the smoothness and wonderful smell of the white coffee. Moreover, the clickable information boxes under the video educate the netizens the white coffee culture.

Brands in China are notorious for their bizarre and often incoherent celebrity endorsements that always feature the same celebrities (Jacky Chan for instance sells everything from shampoo to Cameras) used in fairly uninventive ways. With this campaign, Nescafe (who already uses author and blogger Han Han as a spokesperson) shows that web celebrities can be used as credible and more relevant brand endorsers.

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