Below are our choices for the ten best campaigns of 2010, in the order the work ran. (To read more about each one, click on the title line to see the full Ad Age China story.)
1. HP partners with Communist Youth League to reach rural consumers
In one of the most unusual marketing tactics used by a multinational in China, Hewlett-Packard teamed up with China's Communist Youth League to help expand its business in rural China, home to about two-thirds of the population.
The league organizes a government program in which da xue cun guan, or university student village officials (USVOs), are hired to put their education to use in developing rural China. About 70,000 USVOs are serving, mostly in smaller towns and villages that are still mysterious, unexplored markets for multinationals.
HP--the first marketer to work with the USVO network--did a "Creating a Better Life" contest that encouraged USVOs to submit plans on how technology can help their villages, essentially turning the government's young guns into tech evangelists. HP whittled 1,000 entries down to 100. Almost 59,000 USVOs and village residents cast online votes to name 30 finalists, who competed for 23 HP-funded grants for equipment and training.
2. Li Ning fights for hold on sportswear market
Li Ning introduced a new logo, slogan ("Make The Change") and marketing campaign to beat rivals and update its own ageing branding image. Li Ning also launched new products, like an Urban Sports line that combines sports and fashion, a solid move in a country where consumers tend to use the same apparel and shoes at home, work and play.
Li Ning added athletes' endorsements and global marketing tie-ups, signing sponsorship deals with Philadelphia 76ers rookie Evan Turner and Asafa Powell, a one-time world record holder in the 100m sprint. A partnership with Australian sportswear specialist Skins adds a line of high-performance sportswear.
3. McDonald's revamps its image
To reverse sliding sales, McDonald's revamped its image in China with major marketing campaign "Make room for Happiness" to create a more appealing and contemporary image. Special touches include a digitally-promoted "ping lunch@McDonald's" to bring fast food fans together for a group lunch.
It's not just new ads. McDonald's is upgrading restaurants with interiors made of natural materials, soft mood lighting, textured walls and multi-functional spaces, while phasing out its traditional red and yellow decor. Coffee refills are free and kids get free mini ice cream cones on weekends. McDonald's has about 1,000 stores in 150 Chinese cities and plans to open 200 more next year.
4. Unilever links hot steam with warm wishes in Lipton contest
Unilever tapped into family celebrations leading up to the lunar new year, as well as China's unusually cold winter, with a charming digital campaign for Lipton milk tea. "Cup of Greetings" invited consumers to pick one of three films featuring mimes, schoolgirls or a rock band, and upload a photo of their faces to share with friends by e-mail or on a branded microsite on Tencent's QQ.com service, lipton.act.qq.com.
When friends see the video, the sender's face appears over the main actor's face. The greeting arrives in the form of a steaming cup they can blow on using a computer mouse or microphone. The steam then forms a personalized greeting built around the Chinese character for steam, qi, which can be combined with other characters to create phrases related to good luck, prosperity and popularity.
5. P&G's Gillette adds romance to a traditional family holiday
To promote the Gillette brand among young Chinese men, Procter & Gamble Co. took a different approach to the lunar new year holiday. "Moments" took advantage of an unusual overlap of dates in which the beginning of the week-long Chinese New Year celebration coincided with Valentine's Day, since young men want to look good for family and girls on both occasions.
In a spot, Olympic badminton star Lin Dan, P&G's Gillette spokesman in China, demonstrates how a smooth, clean shave with the Gillette Mach3 razor helps guys achieve a confident look. He proposes to his girlfriend on Valentine's Day, a holiday popular among young Chinese.
P&G hopes the strategy will appeal to Gillette's target market in China--students and other men in their early 20s living in first- and second-tier cities. They are often concerned about their appearance, either because they are new to the work force or have challenges finding a girlfriend because China's single-child policy has led to young Chinese men outnumbering women.
6. P&G turns virtual makeover app into Max Factor contest
P&G partnered with About.com to bring Daily Makeover's virtual makeover application, Makeover Studio, to China. The technology, which lets women virtually try on cosmetics and styling products, was introduced on Abang.com, the Chinese-language version of the lifestyle content publisher About.com.
Chinese women could create personal looks based on their own photograph or those of professional models, using Max Factor products and advice from the site's cosmetics experts. The looks can then be saved and shared on the contest website, mojing.abang.com/beauty. Twenty "lucky draw" winners each week received cosmetics products from Max Factor and SaSa.com.
7. Converse sticks to creative roots
Converse stayed close to China's creative fringes but shifted the focus from music to art this year. The Nike-owned sportswear brand launched a summer campaign around a large scale multi-media work created by a Shanghai-based artist collective, Super Nature. The artists' work, called "Me/Wonderland," explores the memories and childhood fantasies of a wonderland depicted through everyday objects such as light bulbs and painted toys as well as projections onto a balloon surface. Converse documented the installation and turned those images into print and out-of-home ads and point-of-sale materials for stores.
8. Anheuser-Busch InBev kicks off Harbin Beer's soccer contest
Anheuser-Busch InBev created a Harbin Beer Soccer Skill Challenge grass roots program to promote to local soccer fans the local beer's status as the first Chinese beer to sponsor the international football competition.
After four months of online promotions and registrations on www.harbin-beer.cn/worldcup and offline games and events in 54 Chinese cities, Anheuser-Busch selected eight finalists to represent China in an amateur soccer contest in South Africa called the Global Beer Champions. They also attended a professional training camp in Shanghai and represented China in South Africa, competing against teams from other countries.
9. Pepsi's summer campaign visits China's literary past
PepsiCo promoted its Pepsi brand with an "Activate Your Thirst" campaign, including a splashy TV spot that takes the soft drink brand back to its fantasy-action roots in China. The spot is a modern adaptation of a chapter in "Journey to the West," one of the four great classics in Chinese literature published during the Ming dynasty.
In the spot, four Pepsi-sponsored pop stars--Louis Koo, Show Luo, Jolin Tsai and Huang Xiaoming--play the novel's four famous characters, Master Tang, Monkey King, Pigsy and Sand Monk. Former Miss World beauty queen Zhang Zilin is the Spider Queen. The ad marks a return to the epic style of ads Pepsi favored and away from a recent focus on music.
The film's striking location was the dunes near Dunhuang, an important stop on the ancient Silk Road, but now a remote -- and thirst-provokingly arid -- part of western China. The campaign was a collaboration with the China Women's Development Foundation, which seeks better care for Chinese in water-deficient regions.
10. Nike turns China's 'flying man' into comic book hero
Chinese sports fans dubbed Liu Xiang the "flying man," but Nike transformed the track-and-field champion into an actual superhero by creating an interactive comic book dedicated to Mr. Liu that is linked to its Nike Sports Wear line. Published at www.nike.com.cn/aw77/liuxiang, the online comic book's story--Nike's first for a Chinese athlete--is based on Liu Xiang's day dreams. Nike promoted the online comic book and animated short film with print, out-of-home and in-store ads and online on sites like Renren.com, Tencent's QQ.com, MSN.com, Youku.com, Tudou.com and Baidu.com.
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