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Passively Entertained in China

March 2013

By Sharon Li, Shanghai

The extended holidays enjoyed over the recent Chinese New Year highlighted a major difference between the Chinese and most Westerners. Unlike Westerners, who may choose adventure during their holiday, the Chinese prefer to rest. Here, in Shanghai, resting means being physically comfortable, but yet open for being passively entertained. Translated, that means watching TV dramas in the evenings—it’s a favorite national pastime. 

Dramas and urban soap operas are extremely popular for Chinese viewers of all ages. Super Diva is a new, successful TV talent show sponsored by the famous national food and condiment brand GuanShengYuan. The show’s concept is very similar to America Idol, but only mothers can participate. Participants’ emotional stories and glorification of maternal love have been winning the hearts of female audiences. The Voice of China is sponsored by a popular local beverage brand WangLaoJi. The collaboration seems to be a perfect fit, because the brand is well known for balancing body heat and soothing throats. 

Not to be outdone, multinational PepsiCo has been aggressive in the entertainment business in China, from national band competitions, to a multi-faceted web-movie campaign called “Bring Happiness Home.” This web-movie marked the latest attempt by a major brand to create themed content for China. Coca-Cola’s “Co-Creating the Moment of Joy” campaign helped launch a new Minute Maid dairy-based beverage. It invited users of popular social networks to participate in an online game to share their daily moment-of-joy; each share increased the joy level of their virtual balloon. When a balloon hit the required level, participants were entered to win an invitation to join the Guinness World Record event for “biggest helium balloon cluster” with Eason Chen, a popular Chinese singer. 

While many brands choose to play into the Chinese tendency to stay comfortable during downtime, one company chose to challenge it. Adventure sports apparel company The North Face tried to encourage citizens to take the first step in exploring new places by launching an integrated campaign that suggested “Never Stop Exploring.” The campaign had people plant a “virtual red flag” through their mobile phones at the location they wanted to claim, and each location could only be claimed by one person. As the race went on, the campaign spread nationwide and created high digital engagement with the brand. 

Besides entertainment, Chinese love staying connected with their families and friends through social networks (SNS) like Weibo, Chinese equivalence of Twitter, and Weixin. Brands, such as Nike, Converse and Starbucks, often use the influential power of thought leaders to create brand awareness and engage consumers.

Health & Fitness
Entertainment & Gaming
Food & Drink
Pepsi China branded entertainment
The North Face brand activation in Shanghai
Super Diva contest, sponsored by GuanShenYuan

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