Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Jul 21, 2015

Got exam? Keep calm, sing K-pop and eat a walnut

SHANGHAI - People don’t usually think about nuts all that much, let alone what sets them apart. So when Grey's client the California Walnut Commission (CWC) wanted to distinguish walnuts from nutty competitors such as almonds and peanuts, the agency found a defining characteristic of walnuts and added a K-pop crunch to it.

Got exam? Keep calm, sing K-pop and eat a walnut


As it turns out, just a handful of walnuts a day can give you a memory boost, at least according to some sources. From there, CWC and Grey formulated a strategy to give Chinese students an edge in facing the National Higher Education Entrance Examination, commonly known as the gaokao (高考).

In China, the gaokao is one of the most stressful exams and is considered important enough to determine one’s fate. Around 9 million students take the exam every year, all of whom would most certainly welcome a memory boost to aid in their studies.


To make the walnut consumption message appealing to the 12- to 18-year-old demographic, CWC tapped into one of today’s hottest teenage music trends—K-pop (or the Hallyu phenomenon)—by forming its own girl band, Recess Princess. Comprising China’s very own internet starlets, the group made its debut with 'Recess for the Mind', an original song created for this campaign, which also featured a character known as Wallie the Walnut.

The music video, hosted on Youku, introduced Chinese students to walnuts as a healthier snacking alternative and drove home the memory-improvement message. The official CWC Weibo channel also shared study tips and snack recipes. 


  • 13 million media impressions have resulted in about 3.5 million total views for the music video.
  • CWC recruited 35,296 new Weibo followers.
  • Purchase intent increased from just over 5 per cent in 2014 to to 98 per cent as of now, overtaking almonds, peanuts and cashew nuts, according to the agency.
  • Consumer recall rate for Californian walnuts rose from 7 per cent in 2014 to 63 per cent today.
  • 70 per cent of Chinese consumers said they were interested in engaging with CWC online, compared with just 25 per cent in 2014.


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