CBI Video: China UnionPay’s Not-So-Subtle Celebratory Video Pays Off

China UnionPay’s “gift” to the nation

China UnionPay’s short video, “Chinese People Are Great” (中国人民很行), was one of the most discussed campaigns of this year’s National Day holiday, which marked the important 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The 90-second film shows how, at a time when brands in China are developing increasingly sophisticated strategies to reach digitally savvy audiences, direct appeals to consumers and their national pride can still be an extremely effective marketing tactic. 

The video opens with a written dedication to “every hardworking Chinese person,” and its title/slogan “Chinese people are great” is a play on the visual similarity of the Chinese characters for “great” (很行) and “bank” (银行). 

CGI is used to dramatically visualize China’s rapid development and the critical role each of the major commercial state-owned banks has played along the way, as the word for “bank” is replaced with “great” in each of their names. So, for example, instead of “China Construction Bank,” viewers see (and hear) “Chinese construction is great.” The video wraps up with a nod to the central bank, the People’s Bank of China, which becomes “Chinese people are great” and the image of the country as a giant birthday cake presented by China UnionPay along with the brand’s recent slogan, “investment pays off.”

The message that the success of China’s banks, and the nation as a whole, is due to the efforts of Chinese people is not subtle, and corresponds to the dominant narratives in Chinese media. The 70th-anniversary patriotic film “My People, My Country” ((我和我的祖国), which China UnionPay sponsored as the exclusive payment partner, also emphasizes this point, depicting seven key moments of modern Chinese history through the stories of individuals and their contributions. 

China UnionPay’s video was widely shared by official media outlets, and a post on the Communist Youth League’s Weibo went viral with over 100,000 likes and 65,000 shares last week. 

The campaign was led by Shanghai-based ad agency SGAD and UnionPay’s in-house creative team, and directed by Zou Fei with the production company Mod and animation studio Craft Creations.