Real estate firm uses digital media to launch shopping center

All-video site aimed at teens

By Published on .

SHANGHAI--To trumpet the opening of Shanghai’s newest destination shopping center to its target audience of teens and young adults, the developers of Daning The Life Hub turned to the Internet.

Daning opened Oct. 20 with about 100 tenants, including coffee shops, restaurants, offices, a gym, a yoga center, a movie theater, and a Starwood hotel, The Four Points by Sheraton, all stretched across two dozen buildings and courtyards.

What the developers, Chongbang Group’s Shanghai Forrester Development Co., weren’t sure the open-air, shopping and lifestyle center would have is people. Although Zhabei, a district in northern Shanghai, is heavily populated, it has long lacked retail and entertainment facilities, so Shanghainese aren’t used to going there for fun.

To lure them towards Daning--and away from rival destinations like Xintiandi, a well-established dining and shopping zone in Shanghai’s city center--the company created an all-video site that lets consumers experience Daning virtually before making the trip.

When visitors reach the site (, they choose whether to enter the site as a boy or a girl. Then they are whisked from a normal apartment living room into Daning and experience the site as if they are really there, but with a twist.

Instead of merely looking at clothes on a rack or watching a local fashion show inside the mall, their virtual persona is the model in the fashion show, and the clothes they see are really available in the shops. And they are exposed to more than shopping. Through the site, they can do yoga, work out at the gym, go to the movies or visit Starbucks for a coffee.

The site will be refreshed regularly with new items taken directly from the stores, and the developers are negotiating with tenants to be profiled on the site as a marketing strategy for specific outlets. Another objective of the web site is to build a database of Daning members, who can be reached through direct marketing with special offers and promotions.

An online campaign “was an unconventional way to promote a real estate project, and the site is very experiential and innovative, especially by Chinese standards. But the developers know the people they are trying to reach are using the digital media space and want to make the marketing for it something they can relate to,” said Johan Vakidis, creative director, OgilvyOne Worldwide, Shanghai.

“The brief was to make Daning the coolest place in the world and make it appeal to China’s digital youth generation, that’s the target market,” he added. For that reason, the boy and girl from the site eventually meet in the complex as well. “We threw a bit of romance in the story, for fun.”

The first phase of the site was shot in front of a green screen like a film while Daning was still under construction. But phase two will be shot on location. Meanwhile, OgilvyOne is working on a one-minute “making of the site” movie it will place on YouTube and Chinese equivalents like Toodou.
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