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What to think about AR campaigns during Chinese New Year: the Coca-Cola case

This is my thought on the matter: “Merely using AR (augmented reality) during Chinese New Year isn’t enough, it provides consumers an experience and may get them into the stores, but the content always needs to infuse the brand’s DNA and needs to be smartly developed to gain interest with the target Chinese audience.”

The Coca-Cola case is pretty successful. Within two weeks, more than 6.6 million Chinese people participated in the AR campaign. Coca-Cola partnered with mobile payment app Alipay for an AR campaign that gives Chinese consumers a special gift for the Chinese New Year. Alipay is affiliated with the Alibaba Group that has more than 520 million users. In the New Year campaign Chinese consumers can unlock augmented reality (AR) features on Alipay by scanning clay doll figures on the label of the bottle.


To watch the commercial, click here


In the commercial you see AR Chinese traditional folk characters depicted in different scenarios that bring families together for genuine moments of happiness. For the 2018 campaign, the Clay Dolls are causing mischief around a family dinner table in order to create moments of closeness alongside the slogan “Chinese New Year is sticking together”. The animations of the dolls blend with scenes of the real world that users see through their smartphone camera. After the animation finishes, a red envelope arrives on screen for the user to open for a surprise gift of 0.1 to 99 renminbi, about 0,013 eur to 13 euro. The gift that goes to the user’s Alipay account can be used on whatever Chinese consumers would like to buy through Alipay, it is not just a coupon for Coca-Cola’s products only.


Why Coca-Cola’s Chinese New Year campaign works particularly well in China

With the surprise money gift Coca-Cola taps into the Chinese New Year tradition of giving cash-stuffed red envelopes. Note that since a couple of years this has become widespread in China’s virtual world. Chinese consumers have embraced mobile payments faster than any other markets. Every day, Chinese people use Alipay to scan QR codes and pay for things or they use other mobile payment systems such as WeChat. China also has the infrastructure in place for consumers to become familiar with the technology. Around 3000 stores in Chinese malls offer AR or VR experiences.


Build an emotional connection between your brand and Chinese consumers

Although China is uniquely positioned to be a global leader in the AR space and AR offers a novel way of communicating messages to a very receptive group of Chinese consumers, what Chinese consumers seek is engagement with brands.

A major appeal of AR for brand campaigns has been its immersive nature, playful capabilities, and gateway to greater product information. When done right, AR can offer a lot of time to tell a story or deepen the connection between the brand and the consumer.

That is also what Coca-Cola has done in its AR campaign. The Chinese audience is pretty familiar with the animated characters. Coke and McCann Shanghai debuted the characters in 2001 and brought them back four years ago. These characters have been localized for the Chinese market. In Western countries they use their polar bears. In China they have local folk art traditional clay dolls. The Chinese consumers are strongly empathetic towards these joyful and exuberant characters .

Constant exposure to new technologies and innovative social media campaigns has become a part of everyday Chinese consumers’ lives. Also with AR in China, the success depends upon the emotional connection brands are able to build with their Chinese consumers.







Will the “Three minutes” Chinese New Year campaign help Apple to (re)connect with Chinese consumers? A sense of longing. #Apple #ChineseNewYear2018

A family reunion that could only lasts for 3 minutes

Apple’s Chinese New Year campaign promotes the new iPhone X. The short film tells a story about a family reunion that could only last for 3 minutes. Hong Kong director Peter Chan has shot the entire film with the iPhone X. Before you read further, make sure you have a box of tissues right by your side. Titled three minutes the story shows the story of a mother who works as a train conductor on one of China’s longest routes during Spring Festival. She only gets to see her son for three brief minutes on the railway station platform. Every year the conductor misses her young son during this holiday. This time she had aranged her sister to bring her son to one of the train stops, so that she could briefly see him. The story is based on real-life elements and the women in the commercial is really a conductor.


To watch the commercial, click here

Key elements: family, obligations and wanting to impress parents

Three key elements create a sense of longing and emotional depth with Chinese people: family, obligations and wanting to impress parents. Every Chinese New Year millions of people travel across China to make the long journey back to their hometown for the holidays. Although not everyone is free on these days and recent years showing quite a few millennials flying to foreign countries, a great many will also have to work through this holiday. Not only the personal sacrifice of the mother creates an emotional moment, also the reciting of multiplication tables of the young son is very moving. It shows the wish of many Chinese children to impress their parents to make them proud. And in these few seconds, the little boy shows his love by showing that he is doing fine.


Will the “Three minutes” campaign help Apple to (re)connect with Chinese consumers? 

That’s the question. Recent years show that Apple has lost share in the world’s largest smartphone market. With the last iPhone, Apple is trying to (re)connect with Chinese consumers through new features that cater specifically to Chinese people: the improving Chinese character keyboard and a new QR code scanning function.

Compared to the performance of its local competitors Apple has seen better days. The most recent demands from Chinese consumer groups about the slowdown of older iPhones is adding towards the weakening positioning of Apple.

Local competitors Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi already have similar features to the new iPhone. A day before Apple’s iPhone 8 announcement Xiaomi even launched their Mi Mix 2, a phone series that was the company’s own first bezel free-screen design created by French designer and Xiaomi collaborator Phillipe Starck.

The Chinese New Year is a key holiday for sales of the new iPhone X. Keep in mind that the price tag above 8,000 yuan for the new iPhone X is about double the monthly average salary. However, it seems it isn’t the price that is causing difficulties for Apple. Chinese brands show their understanding of Chinese consumers. They offer features that appeal to local users, such as selfie cameras. Their mobile phones’ popularity increase while the iPhone’s is in decline.