I am with Richard Lee, chief marketing officer of PepsiCo China, enjoying the view from the M Glamour bar on the Bund in Shanghai.
The stories that Richard has shared with me over recent years are very diverse, yet they all have a number of common elements.
The most striking one in my opinion is that they use their brands’ communication power to convey a higher message.
Their purpose is to make Chinese audiences aware of the importance of traditional values. Over the years they have highlighted values like creativity and sense of community, but in the past three years PepsiCo has been focusing on ‘Happiness’ as a core value.
“Many young Chinese are caught up in the rat race and financial success easily gets confused with true happiness,” Richard says.
“We decided to time our campaigns around Chinese New Year, the biggest, most family-oriented holiday in the country. We want to remind Chinese youth of the importance of family and community spirit.
“We launched the campaign ‘Bring Happiness Home’ in 2012 and it was such a great success that we extended it, also because it was a perfect match with our brands.
“Before we started Year 3 of the campaign, we looked back. First we had established family as the source of real happiness. In 2013, we showed that a home is not just a house, but home is wherever you find love and happiness.
“In 2014, we decided to extend the concept of ‘Bring Happiness Home’ into actions of actually giving happiness. We came up with the idea of ‘Bring Happiness Home’; not just to your own home, but also to the homes of impoverished mothers, in remote parts of the country.
“Over the years, our country has shifted towards a country of ‘buying happiness’. What we wanted to accomplish, is to reinstall the value of giving happiness, for real. Because what happens when you give away happiness?” Richard pauses for a brief moment. “Indeed,” he continues, ”you will experience a feeling of happiness yourself.”
“How did you manage to reach these mothers?”
“Because we believe that we are stronger together, we looked for partners who share our vision. And we found some interesting ones…
“Huang Xiao Ming is a popular Chinese movie star, he wanted to play an active part in the campaign. Let me show you the video, then you will understand what we did.”
Richard opens his laptop, looks for the video and presses play.
The movie starts with a statement saying that this film is dedicated to mothers everywhere.
We see Huang on a bike in the early morning, arriving at a family home in a remote area. He finds the mother and hands her a ‘Happiness Package’ with a scarf, slippers and other items.
He continues his journey and visits several mothers, who are all very grateful for his gift.
This gift is a sign of support that gives them hope and the strength to carry on.
“The main message of the movie and actually of the whole campaign is that giving happiness to others brings you happiness. We are sharing and strengthening the concept of actual ‘happiness giving’. When you think about it, you realise that when you give away happiness, you experience happiness yourself. ‘What you give is what you get.’
“What we noticed during the making of the campaign, is the determination these women have, despite or maybe because of the hardship they live in. This strengthened our belief that the purpose we chose is the right one for us.”
“I can imagine the impact this video has. And I see a clear common denominator between this video and the one from 2012, even though the stories are very different. Smart. How did you activate the campaign?”
“We collaborated with Baidu, the search engine. People searching for train tickets home received ‘Happiness Greetings’ from Chinese movie stars, in the shape of funny emoticons.
“With Tencent’s WeChat, China’s fastest growing chat app, we set up a service for people to record their personalized Chinese New Year ‘Happiness Greetings’ for their loved ones.
“This all helped a lot in creating awareness of the campaign, but perhaps the most important partnership was with TMall, China’s largest ecommerce website. What we actually wanted, was to give happiness for real. We rallied Chinese consumers to make micro-donations via TMall’s online payment system. The funds were used to create Happiness Packages for impoverished mothers all across the country.”
“And what were the results?”
“Again, astonishing,” says Richard.
“We are very proud of the results. Not only in business terms, but also on the people side.
“First of all, we delivered Happiness Packages to 20,000 families. Secondly, we doubled the number of views of our online content, from 700 million to 1.4 billion since we started the campaign in 2012. The awareness of ‘Bring Happiness Home’ reached an all-time high of 91% and the brand equity of the three brands increased significantly.
“The campaign even got noticed by our government. It was mentioned on national television, which improved our corporate reputation.”
“So we’ll be seeing more of ‘Bring Happiness Home’ in the coming years I guess?”
“Definitely, because besides the positive results for our business, our main achievement is that we inspired people to rediscover the humanity that we sometimes lose in the pursuit of progress.
“We have only just made the first step in changing our mindset from being a ‘nation that buys happiness’ to a ‘nation that gives happiness’. So stay tuned for more.”
© 2014 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands
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