In 2018, China marked a milestone when it reached over 800 million Internet users—98 percent of whom are using mobile to go online. In such a robust Internet landscape, digital has boomed, and marketing trends have shifted from top-down (client-oriented) to bottom-up (consumer-oriented).
As digital shifts from being a medium to a data source, a business channel, a way to communicate with consumers, clients, and partners, advertisers have had to adapt in creative ways to connect with increasingly tech-savvy and often fickle consumers. Few have done a better job than Amber China.
In 2018, Amber China became one of the most awarded Chinese agencies with wins at the London International Awards, Cannes Lion, D&AD, Clio, Spikes Asia, Ad Stars, One Show, and more. The agency won bronze for 'China Digital Agency of the Year' at Campaign Asia’s 2018 Agency of the Year Awards for Greater China, and was awarded the “Independent Agency of the Year” Black Statue at the London International Awards Chinese Creativity Show. The agency’s ‘consumer-centric, data-enabled, content-targeted’ integrated service model offers a roadmap for marketers moving forward.
Using creativity to re-energise brands
In a globalised era of ‘choice overload’, the best way to connect with consumers and build up brand loyalty is through creative story-telling. Last year, Amber China brought a multi-disciplinary approach to content marketing that helped brands push the boundaries of imagination and secure positioning.
Consider its work with By-Health. Amber China collaborated closely with China’s leading healthcare brand to improve its brand image. Not only did the agency help enhance By-Health’s brand positioning by developing the tagline ‘23 for 1’ and refreshing its visual identity, KV and brand video, it worked with the Discovery Channel to produce a documentary called The Quest for Amazing Super Nutrients. Streamed on Tencent Video, it recorded more than 200 million impressions. From upstream to downstream, Amber China helped By-Health hone and expand its marketing models.
McDonald’s was another successful case study. After the fast food giant rolled out China’s only self-ordering machine for children, Amber China reached for the heart strings to promote that service. ‘Gesture of Love’ put children front and centre, showing a series of clips in a 90-second video that portrayed loving, everyday parent-child relationships. This creative campaign gave the child-oriented spirit of McDonald’s self-order service a visible boost.
For Ammeloo, Amber China leveraged its strengths in print design. To help the brand secure its positioning in the China market, the agency created print ads featuring cutesy images of a cow, a pig and a goat broken down into cubes, as if they had been chopped. This award-winning campaign is displayed as a permanent exhibition at the Poster House in New York.
Social strengths and capitalising on KOLs
In China’s jam-packed digital arena, most marketers wonder how they can engage consumers—millennials especially—on social for more than just a few seconds.
With Diesel, Amber China used social media to its advantage. To promote Diesel’s 'Go with the Flaw' campaign, the agency co-created the Anti-Perfect Collection, a series of jewellery pieces made from cosmetic implants that one woman had removed from her body. Amber China posted an unbranded video that led to an online bazaar where fans could buy pieces from the collection. The campaign provoked serious debates about beauty and notched up 274 million social impressions. The Anti-Perfect Collection sold out within a week.
As adidas Originals’ digital integrated marketing partner from 2016 to early 2018, Amber China cleverly combined livestreaming, VR and ‘See Now, Buy Now’ technology with the power of local celebrities and KOLs to create professionally- and user-generated content. Chinese millennials ate it up. adidas Originals became the most liked brand on Weibo in sports fashion in 2017.
The agency continued its successful run with technology company vivo. To promote the brand’s flagship vivo NEX during the World Cup, Amber China put the smartphone at the core of communications, using traditional and digital media to drive the message, “What is NEX?”. #AI智慧旗艦NEX (‘phone with AI-powered features’) notched up 870 million views on Weibo, and vivo NEX was sold out in four hours on the launch day, reaching number one in its category on Tmall during the 618 shopping festival.
Breaking traditional models by lengthening the industry chain
Success in China demands thinking outside the norm in both business and communications. Last year, Amber China lengthened the industry chain through a mix of business consulting and data, customised product research and development, digital creative and media, social content, interactive entertainment and e-commerce.
With Sony, the agency scored big with influencer marketing both online and offline. To help launch Sony’s new WF-SP900 in-ear headphones, Amber China enlisted Karry Wang, one of China’s biggest influencers, to film the brand’s TVC and lead a live-streamed product launch. At the same time, the agency co-created customised headbands as incentives for shoppers at the Tmall ‘Singles Day’ festival. #王俊凱索尼音頻代言人 (‘Karry Wang—Sony brand ambassador’) received 870 million social impressions from over 75 million users, and the live-streaming on e-commerce platforms scored over 12 million views.
The agency collaborated with F6 Supershot to co-create a brand name and packaging for a new energy drink. It was involved in the product research and design and participated in the formulation of brand name and product packaging design. Amber China also plans to work with the brand to innovate distribution channels and explore business opportunities.
Amber China has proven that it pays to be agile and adaptable. To win in China’s fast-paced marketplace, that is a good blueprint to follow.