AIA HK carnival wraps up; China the next frontier

AIA adds more physical activity to further align its namesake carnival with its 'Vitality' positioning.

The organiser and title sponsor of the AIA Great European Carnival, which just wrapped its long annual residence on Hong Kong's waterfront, continued to evolve the event this year as they eye expansion into China.

Details of the expansion plan are still being worked out, according to The Great European Carnival (TGEC) CEO Michael Denmark, but he did share that the most likely locations would be Tier 2 cities. In those markets, consumers remain a bit more receptive to brands and also attractive to advertisers.

Denmark added that a sports element introduced at this year's carnival, which tied in with AIA’s Vitality wellness programme, would feature in the carnival's China plans as well. 

Seven Hong Kong-based associations for sports including rugby, football and hockey were invited to conduct workshops at the carnival on weekends. Visitors wearing Hong Kong Rugby Association t-shirts were even given free entrance to the carnival, and all carnival-goers were able to try their hand at a variety of fitness activities, such as weightlifting.  

“Health as a whole represents physical health, mental health and financial health," said Bonnie Tse, general manager of business strategy and marketing for AIA Hong Kong. "The carnival fulfills the physical and mental elements for our Vitality programme. There was even an AIA-branded ride named ‘Swing Away the Pressure’ at the carnival.”

Bonnie Tse, AIA

Although the number of participants attending the sports workshop was not tracked, Denmark noted that the workshops were full during the weekends.

“There is much potential in China for integrating sports into the carnival as part of the edutainment experience, since the government has been especially proactive in pushing football,” said Denmark. “There are plenty of opportunities to work with grassroots football and international football clubs from the premier league.” AIA is currently on a five-year sponsorship deal with Totenham Hotspur.

“There are two types of brands," Denmark added. "Successful Chinese brands which want to entertain the people and show the government that they are supporting the economy, as well as international brands that would like to engage consumers face-to-face, perhaps to capture some data and build relationship for the future.”

The third edition of the carnival which concluded last Sunday drew 1 million visitors, almost the same number as the previous edition, although the entire duration of the event was eight days shorter. On-site survey carried out on 1,636 visitors by from Steve Garton Consulting shows a 94 percent overall satisfaction for the carnival, an improvement from 84 percent from the previous edition. 

Volkswagen karaoke

Volkswagen, which came onboard as a new brand sponsor for the recently concluded carnival, parked its GTI model on the grounds and used it to host a 'carpool karaoke' contest styled after the hugely popular segments on the James Cordon show. According to Volkswagen, the competition received over 1,200 entries, with the videos being shared widely on social media.

"Volkswagen did everything digitally, and every video bears the AIA Great European Carnival logo," Denmark said. "[The competition] became a complementary piece that works very well with the carnival."

David Goggins, managing director of Volkswagen Group Hong Kong said the carnival's "huge attendance, core themes of family and fun, combined with its European heritage" made it a natural fit for the German carmaker. "Our Volkswagen GTi Carnival Karaoke installation was an in-house concept that was very innovative, and the performances, most of which are very funny to watch, are then shared across online and social media platforms," he said. "We are very happy with the result.“

Earning trust for data

During the 2015/2016 AIA Great European Carnival, data capture was carried out online through pre-event ticket giveaways as well as on site at photo-opp posts. This year, TGEC continued with data collection at a 360-degree motion camera post. 

However, CEO Michael Denmark pointed out that brands have to be more creative with the approach as consumers get wiser with their data.

"Data capture is important for brands to do a lot of research on the side, but we have to realise that consumers are only wiling to part with their data for an experience that they would not otherwise get elsewhere," said Denmark.

Volkswagen's karaoke competition was a great example. Participants checked into the carnival site on Facebook and posted their videos to the carnival's page. 

And now a word from some other sponsors

Harriet Chung, general manager

The carnival has been a remarkable event for family and friends to have a good time together. It is the perfect fit for ParknShop as caring for the family is part of the consumer experience we want to emphasise on. Having our logos featured on the carousel roundabout was part of our branding exposure strategy, and we were excited to explore a stronger brand association with the young group of carnival goers.

Ovolo Group
Michelle Wu, general manager, marketing

As a hotel brand, the Ovolo Group has brand allignment with the carnival as our audience are a fun-loving and thrill-seeking group. As part of our brand strategy, we are always looking to do things differently that cater to our target market. The partnership with the carnival would help us to get the message across to the right market. 

Natasha Li, communications content manager

The AIA Great European Carnival provided a great platform for Deliveroo to reach out to the family-based audience for our innovative food delivery services. The competition for the gala preview night VIP tickets giveaways where participants were required to tag their friends received an overwhelming response—544 comments (entries) on Facebook. It was a highly sought after exclusive event and we were very grateful to be given the opportunity to be included in the event. It was one of the best co-branding collaborations for Deliveroo.


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