Getting Viral Right in China

Posted: August 1, 2010 by jamesalofs in FMCG, Online Marketing, Uncategorized, Viral
Tags: , , , ,

Social media, internet word of mouth, video sharing portals…….all quantum-shift enablers of communication for brands. The most amazing thing to me is that big brands (like P&G’s Old Spice as outlined in Alex’s last post) and little brands have an equal shot at breaking it big.

Pepsi’s recent viral video for the Chinese market (launched on Youku – China’s YouTube) has fizzled thus far, generating about 40 views per day (1071 views over 1 month). The creative is pretty hilarious…whether you are aware the spot is playing off of the Fight Club concept or not. Apparently this spot has not yet hit Chinese TV, and I am confused as to why Pepsi so blatantly filmed this in a brand-heavy TV style 30 second spot as opposed to other viral spots which utilize unique formats and/or subtle branding. Perhaps this is a TV spot that didn’t qualify for on-air status and is being recycled online, but I doubt that given the quality of the creative. I think this spot might be an example of a viral that is a little too forced on the branding and not unique enough to explode virally without any help. Had Pepsi promoted the viral more aggressively, perhaps through paid placements on Youku and Tudou video portals to get it rolling, it might have performed better.

The second viral I want to discuss is from a little-known American agricultural chemical company that has its even lesser-known Chinese brand named Jinkela. This viral exploded for them and has averaged about 3,000 views per day (2.1 million views over 2 years), its super low budget but hilarious in a very smart way. If you take a look at the ad (in Mandarin with no English subtitles, sorry), its pretty funny even not understanding what they are saying…but if you are a Mandarin speaker the dialogue is off the richter scale in terms of humour, execution, rhyming, punning, etc. This viral worked while the Pepsi one did not because its humour is delivered in an incredibly unique way. Who the hell has ever seen a black guy, a white guy, and a Chinese guy with a Hitler mustache rhyming off puns like Bill Shakespeare while scrambling to get their hands on agricultural chemicals? Unreal. What would be very interesting to see in this case are the sales results…did Jinkela’s target market even see this thing?

Finally, the major disadvantage for small brands vs. large brands is that once you do have a viral home run on your hands, how do you maintain the awareness? Viral concepts are oftentimes one-off executions (P&G’s Old Spice has retired the Man-on-a-Horse viral already) and unless you have the coffers and skills of a P&G to use traditional media to maintain this newfound awareness level…you have to rely on praying to discover an additional effective viral vehicle or just leave it as a one time sales booster.

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