Produce 101, an Tencent-produced online talent show seeking to find talent for a new all-girls pop group, ended in July after two months of weekly streamed performances. The show featured twelve knockout voting rounds, and out of the original 101 contestants, seven were voted by the audience to be the show winners. These seven would form the Produce 101 girls group “Rocket Girls 101.” These lucky girls who are soon to find fame and fortune aren’t the only winners— sponsors also struck gold thanks to the successful advertising strategies applied by Tencent. If you are wondering what effective tricks the Chinese streaming market is using, take a look below.
A Sure-fire Hit Product
Mainland China hasn’t had a girl group that can sing and dance well, and its absence is a much-discussed topic. As one of the top Chinese internet data repositories with information from millions of young users, Tencent might be more aware of this itch point and knows how to produce this type of show. After struggling to obtain the rights to a remake of the Korean original “Produce 101,” Tencent took its own path in creating a pop group of young girls who can sing, dance, and radiate positive energy. Despite the bombarding advertisement on Tencent channels (Tencent video, QQ news, and QQ music), Some contestants were already established singers and performers, which led to increased attention and continuous traffic flow even despite already heavy advertising on Tencent channels (Tencent video, QQ news, and QQ music).
Sponsors and Commercial Ads to Fit the Show
Realizing that non-tailored ads would hurt people’s watching experience, Tencent carefully selected sponsoring partners. By analyzing viewer demographics, which showed a high percentage of young people, advertisers locked on several up-and-coming but popular brands – OPPO (mobile phone), Little Red Book (overseas e-commerce platform), Zhonghua (toothpaste brand), Space 7 (women’s sanitary products), Yingshu (skin care products) and McDonald’s. Additionally, commercials during the show were designed to be sitcoms, with decently popular candidates starring in the ads. These commercials gave the audience additional screen time with their favorite performers. Zhonghua’s sitcom ads successfully used the “teeth whitening pen” product on some Produce 101 performers in the ninth episode, and the pen’s surprisingly effective results caused a stir on social media. OPPO’s sitcom ads, complimented as the most well-made commercials of Produce 101, also resulted in escalating focus on newly-released products. Advanced selfie filters that came with phones were impressively advertised in the show when 101 girls took photos of themselves and others.
Considering the huge potential of advertising to fans, Tencent and sponsors were spurred to create a revolutionary marketing loop which ties the theme of the show – “Picking up your dream 101 girls” to the expecting real action from followers – “Engaging with sponsors,” all made possible with the advent of the internet.
- Online campaigns
Unlike the original Korean show that encouraged people to vote by text messages, Tencent video wanted to integrate voting availability with subscription membership purchasing, entitling more voting rights to VIP Tencent video users. With this method, Tencent received a rapid payback and avoided profit-sharing with phone carriers. Meanwhile, various engagement campaigns initiated by sponsors diversified the voting channels and permeated brand awareness into every minute of the show period, which used the followers’ obsession with the performers to drive real traffic and app purchases. Examples –
|Sponsor||Marketing campaigns (and their potential purposes)|
|Little Red Book||a. Pick your favorite 101 girls in the Little Red Book app and win tickets to the show (daily active users)
b. Engage with 101 girls’ daily postings on Little Red Book’s “Pin my life” section (enhancement of social attribution)
c. The #Buy what 101 girls wear in Little Red Book# e-commerce campaign (direct conversions)
|OPPO||a. Pick your favorite 101 girls in OPPO community app, and the most-picked girl gains 10K extra real votes in the show (daily active users)
b. #Send pictures to tell stories of 101 girls# Weibo campaign (social engagement on Weibo)
|Zhonghua||a. Win extra online votes for your favorite 101 girls by purchasing toothpaste from TMall and JD stores (direct conversions)
b. #Pick your favorite 101 girls to be our product spokesperson by liking her at Weibo# Weibo campaign (social engagement on Weibo)
c. #Build a smiling face wall for your favorite 101 girl# Weibo campaign (social engagement on Weibo)
- Offline campaigns
If online engagement works as branding education, then offline campaigns are actual revenue that directly reflects the marketing appeal. Followers’ strong emotional connection with the stars results in “social currency,” and becomes an important part of this marketing tactic. Most of the sponsors encourage the fans to buy products offline, giving them the opportunity to see the 101 girls in person or to gain the girls’ additional exposure. For example –
|Zhonghua||Buy toothpaste at Carrefour, win your chance to see 101 girls in person|
|Yili (milk)||Buy products to help your 101 girls win spokesperson eligibility|
These diversified offline supporting campaigns increased pressure on fans to spend since the competition was conducted in real time, and further boosted sales.
China is a more innovative market for online marketing strategies than ever before, and its internet giants are showing their potential for data management as well as subsequent monetization. The quick development of mobile payment, big data analysis, and artificial intelligence in China have quickened the pace of its digital innovation, and people are welcoming these new developments with great enthusiasm. If you are considering entering the Chinese market through variety shows, some consulting work should definitely be done before getting on board. We are willing to serve you with case studies and marketing analysis reports, from which you will be able to learn about Chinese marketing and the position of your products.