Leveraging hyper competitive moments, like the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, etc., is becoming increasingly important for brands, and each year more money is invested. This case takes its departure in the biggest moment for brands to connect with Chinese consumers: the Chinese New Year (CNY).
Since the launch of its brand platform “Change Destiny” in 2015, skincare brand SK-II (P&G) has supported women taking a stand against the social stigma and pressure to marry ever since. For its 2019 initiative, the brand decided to focus on CNY – the most important time of the year for the Chinese to celebrate their heritage and embrace the start of a new year.
SK-ll’s CNY campaign, called “Meet me halfway”, was anchored in a specific creative insight; that the pressure to get married remained a reality that unmarried women faced in 2019. And never is the tension higher than during CNY, when they visit their parents and relatives, and the nagging about finding a husband culminates. In fact, 8 out of 10 single women in China hesitate to visit their families for CNY.
With “Meet me halfway”, SK-ll wanted to become the most talked about brand among 20-35 y.o. women. To achieve this, SK-II knew they had to avoid the typical campaign pitfalls they had previously experienced. Lack of market understanding, a disintegrated campaign organization and development process, and a lack of clear vision and objectives were pitfalls they had to avoid.
SK-ll wanted to ensure the campaign was successfully orchestrated and set up to amplify the creative potential. They were also eager to build a powerful activation strategy to ensure that millions of Chinese women would not only see the campaign film but engage themselves and form a movement that could drive a positive change.
Mano, a campaign orchestration agency in Copenhagen, was asked to take on the project and work with Forsman & Bodenfors, one of the most award-winning creative agencies, to ensure that SK-ll would realise the full potential of their creative investment.
To achieve this, we worked deeply integrated with Forsman & Bodenfors and Verizon Media (media agency) and merged the creative insights and planning work with bespoke activation insights as well as the media insights.
The creative idea was a 4-minute mini-documentary film that followed 3 Chinese women taking the first step, asking their parents to ‘Meet Me Halfway’, figuratively and literally, to drive mutual understanding.
To ensure we were crafting an activation concept that people would engage with we began with a comprehensive conversational analysis, that broke the concept of marriage pressure and CNY down into a conversational map that would help craft our engagement strategy.
We then mapped current conversations around marriage pressure by sorting user generated content, mentions and engagement on social media, press and blogs. We sorted the conversations, categorized them and ended up defining five key conversational topics, we could tap into.
The conversational analysis revealed that not only did 8 out of 10 unmarried women in China experience marriage pressure, 24% lied about their feelings to their parents, which formed a great paradox and opportunity, since we found that over 60% of unmarried women believed it could be solved by simply talking to their parents. Finally, we also found that different regions in China expressed their marriage pressure in different ways.
Using this unique insight, we crafted different conversational angles that became bespoke activation components tailor made for each partner and media. This enabled us to connect with different audiences in different regions in China, and thus create a pan-Chinese movement.
Based on the conversational mapping, we went on to create an integrated activation plan and campaign roadmap. The plan heroed the film content and adjusted the narrative to match audience sensitivity and regional idiosyncrasies, and seeded conversation angles we knew would spark the greatest consumer engagement.
The initiative was released on WeChat, China’s leading digital platform with around 1.2 billion active users and a complete social ecosystem, where both parents and their daughters were present. Here, editorial content on SK-II’s account along with deep-dive content from Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) sparked consumer conversations which made the campaign spread quickly, reaching a mass audience effectively.
We also leveraged Weibo – the major social platform for discussing hot topics, culture and news in China – where we partnered with KOLs with a proven record of being strong at creating conversations to create awareness of the film among a larger segment of the Chinese population.
Finally, we worked with experts and endemic partners that could help set a credible vantage point for the debate and created content with them to investigate the problem of marriage pressure and the generations gap as a root cause.
In total, we, together with the media agency, strategized and implemented 115 social influencer activations and 18 editorial and social partnerships.
The campaign was introduced prior to CNY at the MAKERS conference at the beginning of February, and then launched on WeChat and Weibo in China and some of the world’s most influential news sites and female lifestyle sites as well as on big Facebook pages, like New York Times, CNN, El Mundo, The Telegraph, VT, Four Nine, etc.
Our intention was to open the subject of marriage pressure and create a diverse set of conversational angles which different people of different backgrounds could relate to. By making the target audience comfortable in sharing their own stories we believe it is fair to say that we not only fuelled conversations and engagement, but also sales.
In China, the campaign received over 2.5 million social engagements, with less than 0.5% negative sentiment, reflecting the organic and honest conversations being driven by women sharing their individual experiences and opinions. During Chinese New Year SK-ll became the the 4th most popular story on WeChat, China’s biggest social media platform with around 1.2 billion active users, and the only brand to trend on Zhihu, the leading digital forum in China, running on user generated content, with over 200 million users.
In total, the campaign recorded the highest volume of earned posts for any SK-II-brand initiative ever, achieved organic global reach of 1.18 billion and the film was watched over 75 million times.
The following is confidential and can’t be published:
The campaign launched February 18th, 2019 and SK-II March sales increased by 35% compared to the year before. They also recruited 52% more new customers than the same time the previous year.