CBI News Wrap: 12.12 Shopping Day, Creative Branding on TV Dramas

The stars of “When Shui Met Mo” at InWe Tea’s themed pop-up

Just one month and one day after the Singles’ Day shopping frenzy of November 11, Chinese retailers geared up again for a somewhat smaller day of big sales on December 12. Among the highlights combining content and commerce surrounding the event:

  • E-commerce platform JD.com created a “Heartwarming Theme Park” (暖心游乐园) campaign with popular Disney and Marvel IP. Characters including Mickey Mouse, Elsa, Iron Man and others were added to JD.com’s “2019 Idol Group.” 
  • Several brands released short films for 12.12. China Unionpay continues its ongoing branded film streak with “Pujie’s Winter” (普杰的冬天), a social-welfare movie about the plight of left-behind children.
  • Another notable film with a connection to a cause is Save the Children’s collaboration with TBWA, “Beautiful Fairytale” (美丽的童话), which shared three true stories of the charity’s work. 
  • Alibaba’s secondhand goods platform Idle Fish launched a project called  “Polish the People’s Treasures” (擦亮人民的宝贝) focused on traditional arts and crafts, with a series of videos introducing various craftspeople. More than 100 folk treasures were featured on the Idle Fish app to further educate consumers about the traditions behind them.
  • Mobile-phone maker Xiaomi poked fun at Gen Z with its series of “advertising memes that Gen Z doesn’t get” (00后看不懂的广告梗). Looking back at some classic ads, Xiaomi proposed universal template for commercials, which it used to make ads for its new products, while also inviting other brands to use the template. 

Ent Group’s latest analysis of popular TV dramas in November looked at recent examples of creative brand integrations on several series:

  • The production team on Youku’s “Royal Nirvana” (鹤唳华亭) created commercials based on the costume drama’s storyline, such as an ad for Guazi secondhand cars that included a celebrity endorsement, and special graphic effects for Vivo’s S5 smartphone that were featured during the episode recaps. 
  • On fantasy drama “Once Upon a Time in Lingjian Mountain” (从前有座灵剑山), a two-minute long commercial for 999 cold medicine took the form of a comical music video for the viral hit song “Wolf Disco” with the series’ actors in costume.
  • China’s tea culture is a key element on iQiyi’s “When Shui Met Mo: A Love Story” (水墨人生), which follows the romance between a wealthy tea merchant’s son and a tea-leaf picker. The series was sponsored by trendy teahouse chain InWe Tea, which transformed one of its locations into a themed pop-up shop decorated in line with the series’ ink-painting influences, and the show’s stars on hand to work the registers.

Online education company Xueersi launched a musical group with 11 of its leading tutors. The XES Teacher Band released a music video for their first single, “Poetry Is Calling” (诗词在召唤), that has drawn a lot of attention on Weibo through its innovative combination of pedagogy and catchy tunes. The song’s lyrics refer to classical Chinese poetry, while the dance moves used in the video are intended as an aid to memorization. Viewers have also been impressed by the academic credentials of the band, which includes graduates of Harvard, Tsinghua and Peking University. 

McDonald’s China is collaborating with designer Alexander Wang to promote its upcoming “King’s Black Gold” menu through jointly branded handbags and more. On December 10, McDonald’s launched sales of two handbags designed by Wang on Tmall: a very limited-edition sheepskin-lined black picnic-style basket and a small tote inspired by the fast-food chain’s brown paper bags. On December 25, McDonald’s will begin offering new menu items and other products in packaging designed by Wang. 

Christmas is not officially observed in China, but brands both foreign and domestic are hard at work developing marketing campaigns around the holiday, which has long held romantic connotations among young Chinese who are open to celebrating in various ways. Himo Photo Studios turned to Iceland as the inspiration for its fifth annual Christmas photo package offering, which this year includes a virtual character that can be included in photo shoots. Himo has promoted its Christmas offerings via celebrities and influencers on various social media platforms, with the “Himo Christmas photo” hashtag drawing more than 210 million views on Weibo, while related videos on Douyin were watched some 20 million times. 

News in English

  • Chinese video-streaming services such as Tencent Video are increasingly dependent on paid subscribers for revenue growth, but risk alienating their paying viewers when they demand additional fees for advance access to their most popular series. Radii
  • Short-video app Douyin is expanding its push into e-commerce with a new feature that allows users to see multiple relevant products (instead of just one) after clicking on a video ad. Technode
  • Douyin parent Bytedance has been partnering with Chinese state-run media organizations to provide content for its news aggregation app Jinri Toutiao, and recently formed a joint venture with one of them. Reuters
  • More scrutiny is on the horizon for Douyin’s overseas counterpart TikTok as it moves to expand branded content: Marketing experts and consumer advocacy groups in the U.S. are concerned about the lack of disclosure on sponsored videos and seek involvement from the Federal Trade Commission. Morning Consult
  • American ad agencies are also complaining that Bytedance has been meddling with TikTok’s marketing in the U.S. market. Ad Age
  • Meanwhile, Douyin rival Kuaishou, which is backed by Tencent, reports that it has more than 100 million daily viewers of livestreaming broadcasts on its platform, and is aiming to reach 300 million overall daily active users by the 2020 Lunar New Year in late January. KrAsia
  • The digital transformation of global luxury brands is being driven by China’s millennial and Gen Z consumers, whose online savviness and demands for engaging marketing are pushing the brands to develop increasingly creative and entertaining campaigns that will resonate with them. Pandaily

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