HONG KONG (AdAgeChina.com) -- Global marketers looking for innovative ways to use branded content, digital media and music in advertising could learn a lot from China, given the superb quality of some campaigns developed in that country this year.
Below is our choice for the ten best campaigns that ran in China during 2009, listed in the order in which each campaign was rolled out. (For additional information about each promotion, read the full story in Ad Age China by clicking on the title line.)
1. Converse sells sneakers through indie rock
Converse is building its brand in China through its long-standing connection with music.
This year, Converse sponsored Love Noise, a documentary film and integrated marketing campaign about one of the most quintessential aspects of the music world--the road trip.
Converse traveled with two Beijing-based groups, P.K.14 and Queen Sea Big Shark, across China by bus for two weeks last summer. As the tour and story unfold, nine featured musicians reveal their personal journeys on the road to self-expression in a film directed by Liu Feng, a filmmaker who joined Wieden & Kennedy in 2005. Wieden created the campaign with the media agency Mindshare and the Chinese music marketing specialist, Split Works.
2. Sony, Estee Lauder and 51job.com back digital series "Sufei's Diary"
Taking a cue from the success of the local version of "Ugly Betty," Sony Pictures Television International created a Chinese version of another series based on a young western woman, "Sofia's Diary."
The Chinese version of the digital interactive drama, called "Sufei's Diary" documents Sufei's adjustment to life in Shanghai with her father and stepmother after moving to the rough-and-tumble coastal city from Beijing.
The first season was backed by Sony Electronics, Estee Lauder's Clinique brand and the online job search web site, www.51job.com, although L'Oreal stepped in as a sponsor after Estee Lauder backed out after the first season.
The sponsors collaborate with the local producers to incorporate their brands into the show, a deal the Omnicom agency PHD helped craft. Viewers are encouraged to vote in weekly online polls to help guide Sufei in some of the difficult decisions she has to make.
3. Ford drives into virtual territory to launch Fiesta
Ford Motor Co. launched its Fiesta model this year to tap into China's expanding small car segment, taking on rival models like the Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo and Honda Civic.
Most potential Fiesta consumers grew up in single child households and tend to avoid TV, so Ford's six-week marketing campaign "Live bold, live sexy" relied more on digital media than any previous Ford effort in China. The agencies were JWT and Wunderman, both Shanghai.
Ford developed a Chinese web site (www.ford-fiesta.com.cn) to provide information about the Fiesta and ran banner, logo and pop-up ads across social networking sites such as Xiaonei.com, Kaixin.com and MSN's IM Robot service. Online activities also promoted pre-launch events held in dealerships and trendy venues around the country.
4. Coca-Cola's Minute Maid partners with pop star Eason Chan
Last summer, Coca-Cola Co. promoted Minute Maid Pulpy, one of its leading brands in China, using the popularity of both the internet and Hong Kong pop star Eason Chan. The mainland is the second-largest Minute Maid market in the world.
Chinese produced and uploaded videos showing how they consume Minute Maid Pulpy, a variation on the global juice brand Minute Maid with added fresh fruit-pulp that was created specifically for the Chinese market in 2004.
They could also view and vote on videos made by others on the "How Do You Enjoy Your Minute Maid Pulpy?" digital platform hosted by QQ.com and Youku.com. Finalists were selected by a panel of experts, and the winner helped direct a behind-the-scenes video for the next Minute Maid TV commercial in China.
5. China's King of Music Joins AB Inbev's "Bud Music Kingdom"
To promote its Budweiser flagship brand during the summer of 2009, Anheuser-Busch InBev launched its largest marketing campaign to date in China, "Bud Music Kingdom."
Running through mid-December, the six-month program includes concerts with Chinese pop stars like Taiwanese rocker David Tao, known as China's "King of rock," as well as Taiwan's Chang Chen-yue and Eason Chan, one of the leading Cantopop stars in Hong Kong.
AB-InBev LSO organized a "King of karaoke" contest and dozens of music fan activities, including beer gardens at concert sites.
Zenith Media handled media planning and buying. Creative visuals, the web site and a TV commercial were developed by Hong Kong production house Image Boutique.
6. Pepsi rocks China with a new generation of local bands
PepsiCo launched a music label in China last summer in partnership with Qun Yin Culture and Entertainment.
Called QMusic, the label evolved out of a seven-month marketing promotion and contest, "Voice of the Next Generation," to find the best bands in the mainland.
QMusic will represent contestants from Pepsi's "Band Battle" TV show, helping contestants become the next generation of music industry superstars--and Pepsi ambassadors. The bands will become an integral part of Pepsi's future marketing.
The music program overlapped with another major promotion, the Pepsi Creative Challenge 4, "Create My Wish for China." In the weeks leading up to the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on Oct. 1, consumers could submit birthday wishes to China, by completing the sentence "China, I wish you...," a phrase adopted from the lyrics of the iconic anthem, "Almighty China."
The campaign, hosted at pepsi2009.qq.com, received nearly 34 million entries, an increase of nearly six million entries over the 2008 Pepsi Creative Challenge contest.
7. Adidas turns NBA visit into a digital slam dunk
In August, Adidas brought two National Basketball Association (NBA) stars to China. The Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose, who plays for the Chicago Bulls, took part in China's first live interactive online TV show.
During a three-day visit, the pair recruited 50 Chinese ball players to help construct and open an Adidas Brotherhood Center at Shanghai's Xu Jia Hui street court, a hot spot among the city's basketball elite.
The players were also interviewed by two Chinese bloggers chosen by Adidas in an online contest.
The promotion combined two passions commonly shared by urban Chinese youth -- the internet and basketball. Interactive and live video content was posted on Adidas.com/cn and three other major Chinese sites.
Fans could view content, post messages to the players and take part in China's first live interactive online television show at minisite.youku.com/adidas/ddtv. The visit was promoted through an aggressive online campaign by OgilvyOne Worldwide and Ogilvy PR in Shanghai.
8. Hewlett-Packard breaks into show business
Hewlett-Packard makes budding filmmakers' dreams come true with the third phase of its "My Computer, My Stage" platform, created with Saatchi & Saatchi, Beijing. Chinese were invited to submit film script ideas to HP's My Stage web site, www.hpmystage.com.cn based on four themes voted on by young consumers -- holidays, student dormitories and bedrooms, love and dreams. Visitors could also ask to be actors.
A panel chosen by HP, led by Ning Hao, director of Chinese films like "Crazy Stone," selects the best script from each theme, for HP to create and upload a story board to the site. The online community can shoot and upload films for each story based on the winning script. At the end, Mr. Ning will put together a short film using the best elements from the four finalists, one for each theme.
Each finalist wins an HP notebook computer. The short movie will be featured at an annual local film festival held by Tudou.com, one of China's top online video sites and an HP partner in the film project.
9. At P&G China, the devil wears Max Factor
Procter & Gamble helped young Chinese women develop their inner diva -- and sample the life of a fashion magazine editor -- with the first-ever social networking campaign for Max Factor, a cosmetics brand no longer sold in the U.S. that is finding new life overseas.
P&G created a web site as an online platform for women in mainland China to share make up tips by creating a "Maxgazine." Consumers flip through the pages of their e-magazine on the site while they are editing, just like a real magazine. They can publish their Maxgazine cover on the news feed of their own social networking site in China, often Tencent's QQ.com, and forward the issue to friends by e-mail.
10. Anta signs first Olympic deal
Anta Sports Products started a nationwide ad campaign in December to promote its biggest sponsorship investment, a four-year alliance with China's Olympic Organizing Committee.
Anta's four-year deal involves 11 high-profile sporting events. As the committee's sponsor, Anta will design the official sportswear to be worn by the Chinese sports delegation at the events, including victory ceremonies. The designs incorporate traditional Chinese elements and use the red and yellow of China's national flag.
The first phase of the ad campaign connecting Anta's brand to China's Olympic ambitions, called "Sparkle," launched in early December. A TV spot and print ads features Chinese athletes taking part in winter sports such as ice skating.
The second phase early next year will have a more patriotic tone and be backed by retail activities, events and promotions.
Runner up: China Environmental Protection Foundation's Biodiversity Conservation campaign by JWT, Shanghai. This public service campaign promotes a good cause, the need to address China's environmental problems.
It also features gorgeous art, which helped the campaign do well at international festivals like AdFest in Thailand in March and the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in June in France, where it was one of the few Chinese agencies to pick up a trophy. The campaign won an silver in the outdoor category for three ads "Industrial Pollution," "Global Warming," and "Automotive Pollution." The latter two ads also scored a bronze Lion for JWT in the press category.
Return to the Ad Age China home page here
Show off rich, innovative advertising. B-to-b marketers are wrestling with their own unique challenges--and proving that they’ve got what it takes to close the deal. Join an impressive group of past winners that includes Adobe, Avon, Cisco, Oakley, Time Warner Cable Media and more.
Extended Deadline: October 19, 2015. Enter now.