Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Jan 21, 2014

Challenger toothpaste brand contends with Colgate, Crest and Darlie in China

"Even if life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, you should find one reason to smile," according to a tear-jerker line from a micromovie by local toothpaste brand Zhonghua (中华牙膏), which is trying to score points with younger consumers in the oral-hygiene category.

Challenger toothpaste brand contends with Colgate, Crest and Darlie in China

The Unilever brand has been more popular with the older generation in China. The company now wants to improve its brand equity among a younger target audience, aged between 25 and 35, who do not perceive it as a top-of-mind choice.

Elaine Tang, oral care brand manager for Zhonghua at Unilever, told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the major objective is to improve brand relevance with younger people via a more distinctive brand personality.

That personality is a positive attitude towards life that encourages stressed-out young people to smile more as they strive for success in the highly competitive and pressured environment that is modern China. The key to that success, according to Zhonghua's brand philosophy, is building affinity and strengthening relationships through one's toothy grin.

As competitors Colgate, Crest and Darlie highlight functional benefits like whitening and fresh breath, Zhonghua wants to remind consumers of the powerful effect of "wide, full smiles". "As smiles are infectious, they will not only improve their lives, but the lives of those around them," Tang said. The overall brand communication idea was “露齿一笑,更有情” (Show your teeth, build more affinity).

"We thought that there was no better time to launch this than before CNY—a time when people reflect on their lives and make wishes for the new year," added Sarah McCarthy, digital associate director with PHD China.

To inspire people to smile, the branding campaign, which runs through the first half of the year, provided some tools. Firstly, a micromovie starring Yao Chen(姚晨)as a photographer who no longer feels the passion she once had for her work and therefore barely smiles. By chance, she 'travels' into the future and meets up with different people whose genuine and truthful smiles help her discover the 'magic of life'.

Embedded links appear within the micromovie whenever the Zhonghua toothpaste appears, pointing to the brand's e-commerce site on The campaign also includes two other digital executions: an in-store smile-powered interactive installation and a camera app that gives people a ‘smile index’.

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