The "11 Degrees" New Media Film Project is joint effort between GM,
China Film Group and Youku Originals, the site's brand of
self-produced online video content.
The project brings together 11 up-and-coming Chinese directors.
Ten have created short films, one of which will premier on Youku's
site each week through the fall. After all 10 have aired, the films
will be combined by another director to form a single full-length
feature film, which will be shown online and on screens at schools
and universities. The films are also available on 3G mobile
handsets via Youku's mobile site, 3g.youku.com.
The first film, a 20-minute short by director Zhang Yaguang
called "The Boxer's Secret," made its debut Aug. 20, and is the
second-most-popular film on Youku's platform, said Youku
spokeswoman Jean Shao in Beijing, with over one million views
during the first six days on air. "The film shows the hardworking
spirit of the post-'80s generation through the story of a promising
young boxer who faces struggles after an accident."
Each of the original 10 films features a Chevrolet Cruze
car, and the scripts include ideas submitted by Cruze fans online.
Viewers of the online series can earn points by attending events
related to the film series to win a free Cruze car. More than
90,000 people have already registered to take part in the promotion
through Youku or the Chevrolet Cruze website (cruze.chevrolet.com.cn).
The film is part of the Cruze brand platform, "The future is
coming for me," which is aimed at young Chinese "who want to build
a better future for themselves," said Tomaz Mok, managing director
of the Shanghai General Motors business at McCann Erickson. The
series helps GM "leverage the young and positive image of
The campaign features "Prison Break" star Wentworth Miller,
whose show is a hit in China through illegal downloads and pirate
DVDs, as the show has never officially aired on TV in that market.
The actor fits into the brand platform personally because he
struggled to find work for years before landing the starring role
in "Prison Break."
"There's also the digital aspect," Mr. Mok added. "About half of
the marketing budget for most auto brands now goes into digital
China had about 420 million internet users at the end of June,
according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC),
including 363.1 million users broadband users. China is also the
world's largest mobile phone market with 805 million cell phone
users. More than 8 million 3G handsets were sold there in the
second quarter of this year.
Ford Motor Co. has also invested heavily in online media,
particularly to market its Fiesta brand, which is aimed at young,
tech-savvy consumers. Last month, for instance, it signed on as the
title sponsor of "Hello! Hollywood," a half-hour weekly
Mandarin-language entertainment program that also airs on video
sites in China including Youku.
Youku says 200 million videos are viewed on its site per day,
but the company and its chief rival Tudou are trying to move way
from illegal foreign content and amateur videos towards
professional productions and long-form content, in part to generate
more ad revenue.
"Creating original productions is a natural extension that takes
full advantage of the internet video value chain that Youku has
built. Youku Originals will extend online video media's value chain
from the low end to the high end, and will create a new chapter for
cross-media cooperation," said Senior VP Wei Ming when Youku
Originals was launched last April.