All Things Happy with California Pistachios

Time to Get Strategic About Making People Happy – Both Client and Consumer

Ketchum was tasked with developing an integrated PR campaign to build upon the excitement of California Pistachios as the “happy nut” in China, and their brand, Wonderful Pistachios, as the “poster boy” for California Pistachios in China.

Wonderful Pistachios was seeking a comprehensive brand campaign that would:

  • fully leverage the power of experiential marketing across different scenarios

  • appeal to diverse segments of the brand’s target audiences

  • subtly drive consistent brand messaging

  • influence consumer behavior directly

Time to Nail The Brief

The below describes a strategic approach that was successfully integrated and coordinated across all marketing channels in China including paid media (pre-movie commercial), earned media (PR and online influencer outreach) and owned media (social media and direct messaging through email and mobile). This not only unified brand messaging customized by channels, but also the sales link of e-commerce platforms for California Pistachios and Wonderful Pistachios to direct consumers to purchase.

Time to Shake Up Consumer Habits and Create Our Own Culture

  • The Chinese consumer is presented with overwhelming choices when it comes to snack nuts, especially the two better-known nuts on the snack menu of Chinese New Year — walnuts and chestnuts. According to data, Chinese consumers’ demand for walnuts and chestnuts accounts for 57.4% and 35.1% of the major nut sales respectively.

  • Although China is one of the biggest markets for California Pistachios, the overall household penetration is still low and consumption is limited to certain occasions only, such as around CNY.

  • To add, in 2019, the brand will be faced with price increase due to the tariff situation between the American and Chinese governments.

important KPIS to ‘crack’

  • To increase awareness around California Pistachios and its product Wonderful as a happy, fun, unique and healthy snack among Chinese consumers

  • To increase market penetration and drive purchases beyond just Chinese New Year time

Planning & Execution

Time to leverage by keeping things literal

The Chinese love to snack on nuts, especially during family gathering moments like Chinese New Year. We learnt that the best way to leverage pistachios and make them stand out among other nuts (almonds, chestnuts, etc.) and to drive sales would be to promote its literal Chinese name which means ‘happy’.

This would provide an ideal opportunity to introduce California Pistachios and its product Wonderful Pistachios into diverse and “happy” consumption occasions like ‘eating pistachios when exercising’ or ‘eating pistachios during a movie’ and more such activities. These occasions could then both help in pushing edutainment and building up happier emotional connections between consumers and create a breakthrough for California Pistachios and its product Wonderful Pistachios to stand out from the pack.

The creative? Time to…

  • Take full advantage of the Chinese name for pistachio - kaixinguo, literally “happy nut” – and help to build California Pistachios and its product Wonderful Pistachios into a happy brand in Chinese life

  • Tie California Pistachios and its product Wonderful Pistachios to diverse daily life occasions to promote everyday “happy nut” snacking and sharing and make us top of mind for target Chinese consumers

  • Integrate e-commerce and social platforms in the engagement strategy to ensure that all activities would link directly to sales

Check out how many people we made Happy:

Happy Snacking with, China’s largest food delivery APP:

  • Everyone is happy when receiving their food delivery service or purchasing snacks. Aiming at’s 9 million plus daily orders customer base and its newly launched self-service snack shelf, we jointly publicized a California Pistachios happy partnership with self-service shelf.

  • Placed in 800 offices in Shanghai, promoting special deal and customized smaller size packaging encouraged more people have their own happy moments. Strong happy messages were incorporated in news release and banner for self-service shelf. Both and our social media shared this campaign with all members.

Happy Jump x WeWork, the most dynamic and interactive shared space:

  • Chinese consumers love to selfie themselves jumping up when they are happy. We creatively initiated the concept of “Happy Pistachios Jump” to bond California Pistachios and its happy message with the action Chinese people commonly take to showcase their happiest mood.

  • Making use of WeWork shared space, young and energetic audiences (members) in 3 cities gathered to reinvent their weekly fitness course into a “Happy Pistachio Jump” exercise.

  • We engaged a happy fitness trainer to guide the media and WeWork members to learn and understand the superior health and nutrition of California Pistachios while practicing their happy jumps!

  • Leveraging WeWork’s offline, online and e-commerce platforms, we also enagaged 3 key opinion leaders to promote and popularize our “Happy Pistachio Jump” exercise. This helped to attract attention, form an active happy atmosphere and deliver our key message of happiness and health along with the T-mall links to drive traffics and sales.

Happy can be made:

  • We joined hands with a famous chef, Brian Tan, to immerse consumers in the action of creating special dishes. Establishing a deep partnership with Brian Tan, a 17-year professional chef, to develop a special set for California Pistachios, introduction to the mass public was effected through Brian’s 2 offline restaurants, as well as 6 Hot IDs promotion and a broadcast cooking program.

And we picked the perfect time to target families’ shared happy moments:

  • Leveraging California Pistachios’ global movie tie-in with “The Grinch” during Christmas holiday in 31 cinemas in key cities covering Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen, we set up consumer engagement booths with fun games, and partnered with 7 key opinion leaders from parenting, entertainments and other segments to deliver fun and happy messages.

  • Fun Pre-CNY events:
    We launched 3 offline events at WeWork in Shanghai & Beijing, directly showcasing our Wonderful products in a stylish booth to meet Chinese New Year gift preparation needs right before CNY

  • Taking full advantage of Chinese New Year, the most important occasion for nuts purchasing:
    We created "Pistachio-tainment" emojis by featuring popular phrases and Chinese New Year elements to spread happiness to millions on WeChat. Also, we leveraged 8 KOLs and popular public social accounts for the emojis extensive spreading, and printed the emojis as stickers for media and consumers to use offline to further strengthen the brand image. We activated 24 key influencers and public accounts on the most popular social platforms in China including Douyin, T-Mall, Weibo and WeChat by diverse formats like live-streaming, short videos and content pushes to achieve mass reach and traffics to T-Mall.

Effectiveness / Results

And just how happy were we when it was over?

  • From September 2018 to June 2019, the overall retail and on-line sales of Wonderful Pistachios is expected to reach over 900k lbs, performing very highly even during the serious tariff issue

  • Wonderful Pistachios enjoyed one of the leading roles in total sales volume among other nuts brands on T-Mall stores

  • The cooperation generated over 47,857 customized smaller packages of Wonderful Pistachios via APP & self-service shelf within nearly 60 days

  • From January to February in 2018, JD.COM flagship store enjoyed 800% higher sales volume than average and T-Mall flagship store achieved about 50% higher than the average


  • Helped boost brand awareness of California Pistachios and Wonderful Pistachios to mass audience: Upon search results from Baidu, the online brand exposure for California Pistachios increased 32% in 2018 versus 2017, while for Wonderful Pistachios solely in 2018, it showed tremendous growth with an increase of 59% over 2017

  • Engaged 784,000 consumers to learn happy messages and product tasting during The Grinch movie broadcasting period in 31 cinemas

  • Approached nearly 60,000 WeWork members in China through WeWork e-commerce platforms and deepened over 4,400 WeWork members’ perception of California Pistachios through offline and online engagement

  • The cooperation reached over 347,000 users via APP promotion and over 40,000 white collars through over 800 offices in Shanghai


  • Securing coverage in mainstream media:

- From January 2018 to June 2019, 494 pieces of media coverage were secured with an increase of 160% over the last same period, achieving over 6 billion impressions in total
- 95 percent of coverage mentioning Wonderful Pistachios was happy and healthy
- Mainstream lifestyle media highlights included stories in GQ, Vogue, Mina,,, and, as well as broadcast exposure in STV Channel Young

  • Expanding the conversations between consumers and Wonderful Pistachios through social media:

- From January 2018 to June 2019, 50 social hits were generated to highlight our series of wonderful campaigns with 167 million+ reach and over 350,000 engagements in total
- During CNY 2018 and CNY 2019 (From January to February in 2018 and the same period in 2019), the happy emoji series generated over 8 million + emoji reads with over 13,000 engagements in total

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