friday 5 | brands using online video in china ::
:: given the vast appetite of Chinese netizens for video entertainment, online video, if done correctly, is an excellent vehicle for brands’ communications efforts. Funny, clever one-off and viral are always an option, but the possibilities are far greater than simply treating the online world as another platform for the same old same old (i.e. 30 second spots). Below is a snapshot of companies and brands successfully using online video in China to support their communications efforts; everything from viewer-determined webisodic series, subtle product placement, brand sponsored content, contests, voting, user generated advertorial content, C-suites interviews / commentary / updates on services, and, of course, magic!
brand-sponsored web series ::
Sofia’s Diary originated in Portugal as a webisodic soap opera, and later made the jump to broadcast television in the UK. The Chinese edition (苏菲日记) tells the story of Sufei, an 18-year-old girl from Beijing who’s living with her father and step-mother in Shanghai. The show is sponsored by Clinique (倩碧), whose products have a prominent placement in the show itself and in related online promotional materials. Sufei’s blog invites readers to “take a look at the Clinique products Sufei uses in the show.” Other brand sponsors include Sony (Sufei uses a Vaio laptop and other Sony digital devices throughout the show) and 51.com, which she uses in her job hunt. Audience interactivity is fostered in weekly polls where viewers vote for plot twists they want to see in upcoming episodes. The first season of 40 episodes concluded in March, but the Web site promises that a second season is in the works.
brand-produced web series ::
Lu Chen, a magician from Taiwan, was one of the breakout hits of this year’s Spring Festival Gala. He now endorses Nokia mobile phones, and the company recently released a series of branded videos featuring the star. In the “educational” videos in the series, Lu instructs observers in how he performs simple tricks (part I, part II) involving Nokia phones. A street magic segment unites magic tricks with mobile phone capabilities, amazing and mystifying the audience. Then, in more straightforward advertisement / product presentation, Lu performs different forms of “magic”: he takes advantage of special features of the N(okia)-Gage phone to help his acquaintances with gaming, maps, and email. A flashy online campaign released by Johnnie Walker in 2007 includes a series of five connected shorts telling the story of a creative type who “keeps walking” through life in his attempts to become a screenwriter, accompanied by his friends and refreshing drinks of Black Label. The series has related graphic novel interpretations, games, and quizzes, and is still being promoted in the brand’s overall online communications efforts.
one-off / viral video ::
In September 2008, Lenovo rolled out an online promotional campaign for its S9/S10 Ideapad netbooks that included a cute mascot, a theme song, and a digital video short. The “Always Online” short tells a supernatural love story: A boy tells his girlfriend that she’s too dependent on him; she suspects he’s seeing someone else and breaks up with him. He says he’s “always online,” so she continues to seek his help through her instant messaging program. After she achieves independence and self-confidence, she finds out that he died of cancer, and that his spirit has been inhabiting a stuffed “Kuku bear” that he bought, allowing him to chat with her from the grave. Pop star JJ Lin sings the theme song “Always online” — all of which promotes the “always online” feature of this line of Ideapads. It’s a more successful viral effort than a previous Lenovo laptop promotional campaign, a ham-fisted attempt at “candid photos” of a pretty girl using a red Ideapad U110 laptop.
:: online marketing channels
Tudou has a sub-section for marketing, which hosts contests, games, product exhibitions, promotional activities, and dedicated brand channels for client companies. A typical example is a recently-launched video contest promoting Wahaha’s new beer-flavored tea drink Pierchashuang (啤儿茶爽). Contestants are encouraged to send in their own original commercials for Pierchashuang, which viewers can vote on. Ultimately, the ten most popular will be judged by the organizers of the game, and prizes awarded: a car, a netbook, or a RMB 500 “creative prize.” The competition just started on May 6th, so the entry page currently features TV ads for the drink. Original entries include a girl attempting to drain the bottle and a boy echoing the product slogan “Pierchashuang isn’t beer!” Ku6 has a User Generated Advertising (UGA) department which is involved in generating viral videos. An initial success was a short clip released in January 2009 that showed a young man losing a mobile phone out the door of a subway while he was playing with it. The actual phone wasn’t shown at all, but curious netizens tracked down the Sony Ericsson model that had the peculiar inertia-based game he was playing. A more obviously branded short is a new viral Chevrolet ad that pits the Transformer Bumblebee against a Citroen C4. The ad’s particularly interesting in how it refers back to a previous viral ad from 2007 in which a Citroen C4 transforms into a dancing robot.
corporate c-suite online video communications ::
Sohu was the official online news portal for the Beijing Olympics, and CEO Charles Zhang hosted a celebrity interview show, Sohu Beijing Report, in the run-up to the historic event. Zhang is something of an outsize celebrity himself, and his encounters with Jet Li, Fan Bingbing, Yao Ming, and other famous names had the effect of associating the interviews even more closely with the Sohu brand. Youku CEO Victor Ku releases the occasional video. He too did interviews for the Olympics, and this year did a special New Year’s greetings for the Year of the Ox . The official Youku channel has more of his videos, which range from statements about the video portal’s exclusive offerings to special “CEO vs. CEO” interviews.
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