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CASE: Crowd agency grows awareness of Chinese brands

February 22, 2021
Published on:
May 8, 2019
January 5, 2021

Crowd Agency Grows Awareness of Chinese Brands

Crowd is an independent global creative agency with a reputation for helping brands grow their audiences, sales, and brand awareness across the world.

Started in October 2012 from the campus at AUB (Arts University Bournemouth in the south west of England) where it worked with film and design students, the business had grown by March 2019 to more than 100 employees. These work in offices in Bournemouth, London, Amsterdam, Dubai, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and across China.

Through a joint venture, Crowd has Chinese offices in Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Beijing and Xian and there are also Chinese speakers in most of its offices worldwide.

Since incorporating, the business has reported strong year-on-year growth.

Turnover was £2.4m in 2018 and it plans to increase this to £2.9m in 2019.

The company believes one of its strengths is its diversified culture. Staff come from 19 different nationalities and speak 14 languages between them. The company’s Global CEO, Jamie Sergeant, says this culture enables Crowd to come up with ideas that are more creative and deliver the best service to clients.

It aims to combine local knowledge and global reach, including for clients such as the following two cases.

Case 1: Visit Sichuan

Sichuan is a beautiful part of southwestern China, but very few Western tourists have heard of it.

In order to boost visitors, the Chinese Government-run Visit Sichuan tourist board briefed Crowd to develop and implement a communications strategy to make the region stand out.

Sichuan province engaged Crowd to create a campaign that would boost awareness outside China of Sichuan as a destination and build an engaged audience for future campaigns.

Sichuan is the official home of the panda and the agency used pandas and the idea of Sichuan’s ‘secrets’ as key strands in its content and communications.

The panda storyline acted as a gateway to display other Sichuan elements, including its wildlife, nature, traditional cuisine, and vast varying landscapes, which were presented with beautiful photography and immersive video footage. And as well as using social media, the agency created 10 bespoke HTML websites promoting different aspects of the region (https://visitsichuan.today)

The campaign focused on audiences in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia.

Elements included:

  • A 30-second video created to post on social promoting various ‘secret’ aspects of the Sichuan province
  • Using videos and imagery of pandas to gain engagement
  • A content calendar to keep track of all posts and ads with a timetable for publishing material
  • Optimisation activities to maximise the performance of the content and ads

Crowd exceeded its targets: increasing the number of followers on its three principal channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), and growing impressions, video views, and engagement.

  • Facebook followers increased by 120 per cent
  • Instagram followers increased by 246 per cent
  • Twitter followers increased by 30 per cent
  • Facebook impressions increased by 5454 per cent
  • Instagram impressions increased by 1295 per cent
  • Facebook engagement increased by 1457 per cent
  • Instagram engagement increased by 181 per cent
  • Twitter engagement increased by 13 per cent
  • HTML5 campaigns resulted in 4,185 clicks

Sichuan 650px
(Above: Advertisements encouraged Western audiences to discover the ‘secrets’ of Sichuan. Image: Crowd)

#Case 2: China Southern Airlines

China Southern Airlines
(Above: Advertising for China Southern Airlines on the London Underground. Image: Crowd)

China Southern Airlines is one of China’s ‘big three’ national airlines. However, the brand had low awareness in the UK and there was little knowledge of its long-haul international flights.

Crowd’s brief was to raise awareness of the China Southern Airlines brand as it launched three new long-haul routes from London to Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. The agency had a national target audience, but also needed to put a strong focus on reaching people that would consider London their most convenient airport.

Its creative inspiration came from China Southern Airlines’ newest fleet of aircraft - the Dreamliner 787.

The advertising creative developed by Crowd depicted objects and landmarks for each of the airline’s new destinations floating around a passenger’s head. The central idea of the campaign was to portray both the relaxing experience of flying with China Southern Airlines and the adventure that awaited the traveller on a dream holiday.

To drive awareness, the campaign employed the most impactful media channel available – namely, large-scale, out of home placements.

Large digital adverts were placed on platforms at the busiest underground rail stations across London - Piccadilly, Paddington, Liverpool Street, Waterloo and Victoria – on the basis that these would offer some escapism to people making a daily commute.

The football Premier League is the most popular sporting property in the UK, and there was potential for the China Southern Airlines campaign to tap into this popularity.

The agency therefore adapted the campaign creative to stand out on football pitch side LED banners at 12 high profile matches to reach match attendees and the significant global TV audience these games attracted across free-to-air and Sky Sports channels.

Horse racing events offered another opportunity to get the airline’s brand in front of an appropriate audience. The Sandown and Epsom Downs family day out horse racing events attract an aspirational audience with the disposable income to travel to the airline’s destinations. The agency placed its adverts at key locations on these racecourses.  

Advertising Results

In total, the Premiership football sponsorship reached 89 million people and achieved 60 hours of total screen visibility.

Using the industry standard benchmarks, this equates to 336 million ad impressions - or a CPM (Cost per Thousand) equivalent of £5.17.

In total, ads were in view for 24 minutes across this campaign. In just two weeks, the London Underground campaign was seen by over half a million people.

Advice for UK-Chinese collaborations

Crowd believes that the differences between Chinese and Western markets – ranging from language to varying social media channels and business cultures - are so large that the most likely route to success for a UK business in the Chinese market is to take a long-term, patient approach and focus on understanding these differences and on relationship building.

It recommends working with local companies or international companies that already have activities in China.

It believes Anglo-China collaboration would be helped by an increase in events for Chinese brands that want to export their products and by having more events for British agencies in Chinese cities, such as Chongqing and Hainan that want to increase their international profiles.

In the near future, it aims to help promote Chinese destinations to the rest of the world and attract more tourists to visit and understand China.  It would like to help both Chinese and British brands build connections in the two markets as well as in other territories.

Global CEO Jamie Sergeant says that creativity in China is not as strong as the country’s use of technology, although the Chinese Government has put more focus on Culture and Creativity.

Sergeant says that the UK’s creative industries are world-leading and that being able to sell creative services to Chinese clients as an award-winning British creative agency is a key point for Crowd.

He adds:

“When we started Crowd back in the autumn of 2012, the philosophy was simple. Devise creative, focused solutions to deliver measurable, high performance results for clients that share our values. Nearly five years on, the global creative landscape has changed significantly but, however large or small the project, our mantra remains the same: “Do amazing work.”
“Amazing work means many things. It means our clients are delighted by tangible results, not only returning with further, greater challenges, but also seeding that most powerful of tools – positive word of mouth. Tracing the growth of our global client roster, a remarkable 67 per cent of new business has been acquired as a result of recommendation.”

Aside from China, the company is also looking to grow its business in the US and the Middle East. The list of its other international clients includes names such as Dubai Airports and Visit California.

It believes that within three years, international revenues could account for 70 per cent of its total turnover.

For more information, visit https://thisiscrowd.com/

Contact: results@thisiscrowd.com

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