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CASE: Marketing Chinese brands

February 22, 2021
Published on:
August 12, 2019
January 5, 2021

Marketing 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) where it worked with film and design students, by March 2019 the business had more than 100 employees in Bournemouth, London, Amsterdam, Dubai, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and a growing presence in China.

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

Since incorporating in 2012, 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, such as in the following two cases.

Visit Sichuan

Sichuan 650px
(Above: advertising celebrated the region's mysteries. Source: Crowd)

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

In order to boost visitors, the government-run Visit Sichuan tourist board briefed Crowd to help 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 this a key strand in its content and communications.

The panda acted as a gateway to display other elements of Sichuan including wildlife, nature, traditional cuisine, and vast varying landscapes 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.
  • Work was also done to optimise performance of the content and ads

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

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

China Southern Airlines

China Southern Airlines is one of China’s 'big three' national airlines. However, the brand was not well known in the UK - especially not for offering 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 depicted objects and landmarks for each of the new destinations floating around a passenger’s floating head thus showcasing both the relaxation of flying with China Southern Airlines and the adventure that awaits you on your next dream holiday.

China Southern Airlines
(Above: Adverts depicted travel with China Southern Airlines as dream-like. Source: Crowd)

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

The daily commute often calls for some escapism, and so large digital adverts were placed on platforms at the busiest underground rail stations across London - Piccadilly, Paddington, Liverpool Street, Waterloo and Victoria

The football Premier League is Britain's most popular sporting competition.

The agency therefore adapted the campaign creative to stand out on pitch side LED banners at twelve high profile matches to reach not only the match attendees, but the significant global TV audience across free-to-air and Sky Sports channels.

The Sandown and Epsom Downs family day out horse racing events also provided an opportunity to reach an aspirational audience with the disposable income to travel to the airline’s destinations.

In total, the Premiership football sponsorship campaign 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 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 China and Western markets – ranging from language to 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 building relationships.

It recommends working with local Chinese companies or international companies who 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 to build connections in the two markets as well as in markets all around the world.

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

Sergeant says the UK's creative industries are world-leading and the fact that it is an award-winning British creative agency is a key selling point for Crowd when it is marketing its services to Chinese brands.

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 who 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 and other clients include 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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