What China watched while we Gangnam Styled
- A case study in marketing to a billion -
- 5 million views in 33 hours.
- 177 of Greater China’s top celebrities - in 8 minutes.
- Distribution: Exclusively wireless to China Mobile’s 700M subscribers, before even state-owned CCTV television.
While the rest of world Gangnam Styled, Mainland Chinese were dancing, multi-language parodying, and just last month, kids-versioning a Jackie Chan-produced, Mandarin-language “Best Wishes from Beijing (北京祝福你)”.
On July 22, 2012, China Mobile exclusively debuted Beijing’s Official Song for the London Olympics to its 700 million subscribers - breaking 5 million hits in 33 hours. While hits are low on YouTube, views are at minimum millions across the fragmented YouTubes of China (Baidu, Sohu, YouKu/Tudou, etc.), not to mention endless CCTV replays.
With 177 China, Hong Kong & Taiwan celebrities squeezed into 8 minutes, “pretty much anyone you want/need to know" in Chinese entertainment is represented. Jackie Chan looped in his friends, including actress Zhang Ziyi, pianist Lang Lang, and Miss World China Zhang Zilin. If only U.S. tourism videos looked this palatable!
Five marketing takeaways:
1. Backwards Compatibility … a.k.a. Remix:
No fixin’ records when it ain’t broken. The title of the Beijing Olympic’s persistant “Beijing Welcomes You (北京欢迎你)” official song was
copied remixed into this “sister” song.
Same words, different tune. One more phrase, “Best Wishes from Beijing (北京祝福你)”, added as the title hook. Easy, patriotic words for citizens to repeat. Genius.
No expenses were spared for the 177 celebs, some clearly green screened in front of pristine national monuments. Yet, with our US political parties and record labels, it’d be a miracle to mobilize even half that number - edited in or not.
3. Forwards compatibility - for generations:
Just last month, 23 child stars joined world-renown pianist Lang Lang to record a children’s version and “mobilize youth around the country to learn the song”.
The Chinese government has integrated the song into its efforts to promote youth to listen to classical music. If American children did the same joining forces with our performing artists, we too could inspire new generations - from young ones themselves.
4. Simplify for distribution:
140 Chinese characters in the whole song … repeated 5X. One exclusive launch partner: China Mobile’s 700 million wireless subscribers at the same time - even before stars sang it on state-owned CCTV.
The Great Wall I expected. Celebs turning shopping malls, libraries, even villa homes into a music video runway were a surprise. The middle class remains aspirational to most of China’s populace - to the point of being tourism music video worthy.
Few ever face the challenge of marketing to a billion (other than Facebook). Actions taken by the Chinese government perhaps present the best lessons in themselves: innovative, creative, genius.
What other country creates a music video - four years after it hosts the Olympics - to send wishes to the other country (note: the words London aren’t mentioned at all), while showcasing the strength of its own?
While with much more to go, I’m proud of how far Beijing has become since my first visit at age 12. This music video is just one of many fascinating examples.
Too good to be lost in translation.