“It’s Your Turn” (到你了) is what Converse (China) has aptly titled its latest campaign featuring “flagship” spokespeople, Queen Sea Big Shark – one of China’s better-known indie bands. The campaign crowd-sources not only lyrics for the band’s new song Let’s Play, but also extras for cameo appearances in the song’s music video.
Once again Converse, bravo, well done.
Our friends at W+K Shanghai also deserve a chest bump for their work on this campaign – they are Converse’s agency of record in China.
What do I like about the “It’s Your Turn” campaign? Find out just below this mad hot Queen Sea Big Shark band photo.
First, it’s leveraging web basics (social media, user-generated content, etc.) to co-create with, among other target-audiences, the Chinese creative community. I love the web and I love the Chinese creative community, using the former to get through to the latter makes me happy and is just plain smart, kudos!
Second, it’s providing a Chinese indie band yet another platform of exposure, promotion, and “packaging;” and it’s doing it in a non-intrusive, non-corporate way. Converse is just playing a facilitator role to make it all happen – none of the hype is focused on the brand, it’s all about the band. This campaign is not only good for Queen Sea Big Shark’s prospects, but also for the healthy development indie music scene and creative community as a whole.
Third, whether Converse wants to admit it or not, it’s not just for the indie crowd in China, or anywhere really. It’s a massive brand with the majority of it’s consumers falling into the “mainstream” crowd. The efforts Converse is making to align itself with Chinese indie culture and the Chinese creative community does well to establish / accentuate the brand’s personality and distinguish it among competitors in the China market, but more importantly (to us anyway), it helps educate “the mainstream” (i.e. the 90%) about the indie / creative scene (i.e. the 10%). This is something the former desires and the latter of course welcomes, and in the end, the brand wins too. This kind of education / awareness raising is a great service that (in some ways, only) big commercial brands and mainstream media can provide both demographics. Involving a mass audience in an indie band’s creative process is a nice way to achieve this.
Fourth, related to the third reason, the offline auditions for music video cameos are being held in Nanjing, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Shenyang, Wuhan, and Xian – all second tier cities (except Guangzhou). This is a smart move for Converse on many levels, but what I most like about it is that the brand is bringing indie / creative culture to new demographics, not just the tried and true 1st-tier markets of Beijing and Shanghai.
Fifth, there is half compelling prize. It’s depressing how many of these user-generated content / co-creation efforts by big brands (most of which probably have significantly larger marketing budgets than Converse) are incentivized with lame awards. “It’s Your Turn” winners get an all-expense-paid 5-day trip for two to Beijing to attend Modern Sky’s MIDI Music Festival in October. Winners are also given a RMB 2000 shopping spree at a Converse store. Both of these things are in addition to the obvious – winners either having lyrics they wrote used in a Queen Sea Big Shark song (Let’s Play) or appearing in the band’s Let’s Play music video, both of which will be high-profile, nationally promoted pieces of content. (Hell, I’m thinking about participating.)
Last, the campaign simply works. It’s achieving exactly what Converse wants it to – pushing the brand’s image / traits / attributes further in the direction it wants to go.
I only have two small critiques:
First, I think the campaign could be amplified better. It has been live for two weeks and besides some banner ads on Douban.com and the official Converse China website, I haven’t really heard much else about it. (Hopefully this post helps get the word out further.) Connecting with influential bloggers / online communities and courting brand fans to spread the word would help give an already great idea more legs within the indie community, but more importantly, among mainstream audiences. And of course, tapping more mainstream channels (online and off) would help increase the reach of the campaign across multiple demographics / localities.
Second, although I think this “one-off” campaign is a great thing all around (as was the LoveNoise campaign), I would like to see Converse communicate more openly about long-term commitments and plans for the brand’s involvement in the Chinese indie music scene. This is something that Pepsi has done quite well (albeit only in words and on paper at this point) with its Battle of the Bands / Voice of the Next Generation campaign and QMusic label.
I’m all for leading through action, which Converse has done admirably, but research we’ve done at NeochaEDGE has found that brands have much to gain from publicly stating their long-term commitments or plans to engage with the Chinese creative community and local indie culture.
To learn more about the “It’s Your Turn” campaign’s lyric-writing contest, link here; for more on the campaign’s “be an extra in the Let’s Play music video” contest, link here. See below for two videos introducing both elements of the campaign. For more NeochaEDGE posts on Converse, link here. For more from W+K on NeochaEDGE, link here. // AjS
NeochaEDGE is a daily-curated, bilingual website and discovery engine dedicated to showcasing leading-edge creative content and emerging youth culture in China.