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The Most Successful 5 World Cup Marketing Campaigns in China

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The Most Successful 5 World Cup Marketing Campaigns in China

On July 15, the final game of the 2018 Russia World Cup came to an end. After 7 rounds of the game, the French won the championship in the end. It was the 21st World Cup  and there were over 2 billion people who watched the game all over the world.



The World Cup is the biggest event for football fans around the world held every four years. It is also presents a great commercial opportunity for businessmen. Like any other grand sports competition in the world, commercials on the World Cup are very important for promotion.



With the development of the digital marketing business in China, it is notable that there were a lot of successful World Cup-related marketing campaigns in the past month. Some of these cases were truly creative and innovative. Observing these campaigns presents an opportunity for other businesses to take advantage of for their own campaigns.



In this article, Dragon Social presents the 5 most successful World Cup marketing cases in China to share. Would you like to know more about insights into marketing in China? The Dragon Social team can help. Get in touch to see how!



Also, if you have any brilliant ideas about China and marketing in China or any topics you’re interested in, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment on our website, Facebook page, and Twitter.



Table of Content(Click to read)



1. Top 3 World Cup Marketing in China Read Now



2. China’s World Cup Economy  Read Now




Top 5 World Cup Marketing Campaigns in China



1. Mengniu Dairy



Among so many sponsors of the 2018 World Cup, Mengniu Dairy may not be the richest one, but it as definitely the earliest one. They launched various commercials a month before the World Cup began. Moreover, Mengniu Dairy invited stars like Lionel Messi, Mesut Özil and Neymar da Silva as their ambassadors to feature in their campaigns.



One of Mengniu Dairy’s commercials in particular was the most famous. This commercial was a one-man show starring Lionel Messi.  The content was about the life experiences of Lionel Messi and the core value sof Mengniu Dairy. Mengniu Dairy aired this commercial as much as they could on a range of different platforms and networks.



↑Mengniu’s most famous World Cup commercial



There is a catchy slogan in this commercial, “I was not born strong, I was born predestined for greatness” 我不是天生强大,只是天生要强. In fact, the original purpose of this video is to link Mengniu’s slogan and Lionel Messi’s excellent football skills together.



However, after the World Cup began, Lionel Messi and the Argentinian team he played on did perform so well. During the group stage, in a June 22 game, Argentina lost a game against Croatia with a score of 0 to 3.



In the game against Croatia, Lionel Messi’s performance was far from satisfactory and was the exact opposite of what the video had presented. As a result,  Chinese netizens used Lionel Messi and this commercial as a meme and this meme went viral throughout the Chinese internet.



Netizen changed the subtitle to ” I’m Lionel Messi, I’m panicking right now.”



“I was not born strong, I was born doomed”



Not only was Lionel Messi’s as an online meme, it also spread out on different kinds of social media as a popular sticker. Thus, Mengniu Dairy coincidentally received a lot of attention because of  Lionel Messi’s loss. In the end, Mengniu Dairy’s cooperation with Lionel Messi became an unexpected success.



Mengniu Dairy’s investment in advertising was extremely successful by any measure. It resulted in a huge amount of engagement with the brand and helped build awareness among sports fans and social media in China users.



2. Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd.



Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. is a company focusing on gas appliances and bathroom products located in Zhongshan City, Guangdong. Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. is neither the best nor the richest in its industry, but chose to invest in a marketing campaign during the world cup.



However, Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. had a brilliant marketing strategy. It used a very smart way to let the whole country remember it.



It started on the next day of the final game in the group stage. On that day, Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd.’s official Weibo account posted a tweet that said that if French win championship, Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. will give full refunds to all customers who purchased products from Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. during the World Cup.



Naturally, there were not too many people who took this bet seriously. Most of the people just considered this as words to amuse. Certainly, there was also a small group of people hoping for the French to win so that they could potentially earn a refund.



However, when the French won again and again in games, people become more and more interested in whether Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. would fulfil their promise or not. Attention also brought Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. more customers.




The official website of Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd., “To celebrate French’s victory, Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. will offer a full refund.”




Then, when the French finally won the championship on July 15, everyone who had been watching Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd.’s Weibo got very excited about the refund. Surprisingly, Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. did not break its promise.



Long story short, Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. offered a refund of 35.2 million RMB in total over the next two weeks of the World Cup final game. However, this bet helped Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. to become a brand that everyone one knows.



In summary, although Vantage Gas Appliance Ltd. lost 35 million RMB for the refund, it gained the priceless publicity effect from this bet.




3. Vivo



As a new tech company, Vivo was fully prepared when the 2018 World Cup came. First of all, Vivo launched their new mobile phones, which were known for their powerful functions in terms of music playback and photo shooting. Besides, this new mobile phone also had a special version for the 2018 World Cup.



Vivo’s special edition mobile phone for the 2018 World Cup



But, Vivo’s World Cup commercial was the most innovative and interesting marketing strategy during its marketing campaign in the 2018 World Cup.



↑Vivo’s World Cup commercial, “My Time, My FIFA World Cup”


In this 78-second commercial, Vivo put its focus on the stories of ordinary people. The three stories in this video are about a ballet-dancer, a football player, and an audience. Vivo presented its core slogan, “My Time, My FIFA World Cup”, through telling these three stories.



Because Vivo says they believe everyday ordinary people are outstanding and their stories are worth telling, the best way to tell their stories is to record them.



With hints inside the commercial, the audience will connect the idea of telling stories with the new functions on Vivo’s new mobile phone.



In addition, Vivo also redecorated more than 50 stores in different cities into a World Cup theme. It helped to provides a sense of intimacy between Vivo and the tournament.


The redecoration of Vivo’s store



To sum up, Vivo’s success depended on a comprehensive marketing campaign involving the 2018 World Cup. Vivo adjusted not only their products but also their campaign slogan. These adjustments were very useful in attracting customers’ attention.



4. Zhihu,



If you watched the 2018 World Cup through China Central Television (CCTV) Channel, you will not forget a repeated commercial for Zhihu. In this commercial, the famous young actor, Liu Haoran 刘昊然, asks the audience again and again whether they know what Zhihu is.



↑Zhihu’s World Cup commercial



It is true that shooting a commercial in this way is not a new thing. However, it worked for Zhihu.



As an online Q&A community like Quora, Zhihu has achieved an amazing goal, it has 30 million daily active users and 100 million users in total. So, you may wonder who is the target audience of this commercial.



The answer is simple, this commercial targets those who are using Zhihu but not its users. Since Zhihu’s influence and online resources still need a search engine, like Baidu, Sogou and so on, to access.



Earlier this year, Zhihu launched lots of new content, such as online courses, online talks and so on. But, the most important new function is the optimisation of its own search engine. Zhihu’s greatest resource is its users, and thus it hope to attract new users and establish new acquisition channels outside of Chinese search engines.



Zhihu wanted to continue building its platform and drive further engagement on the platform without relying on the help of search engines.  Throwing in commercials on other media could attract new users and high-quality resources for Zhihu.



Thus, the aim of Zhihu’s World Cup commercial was to let people know and remember the features of Zhihu. From this perspective, Zhihu’s World Cup commercial was a great success.


Also check out How to successfully market to Chinese consumers on Zhiu.


5. Tencent



In Hongqiao Stadium Railway Station, Shanghai, Tencent put a magnificent performance art on the walls of this station. As Tencent’s most creative World Cup commercial, Tencent used 5000 pieces of old newspapers written about the 2002 World Cup, the only World Cup China participated in, on these walls.



Tencent’s most creative World Cup commercial



Of course, there are lots of marketing cases based on old newspapers. But Tencent’s commercial is considered to be one of the best cases.  First of all, it evokes football fans’ memory of the 2002 World Cup and relates directly to people’s daily life in its association to newspaper and placement on the MTR.



However, why did Tencent choose offline marketing since it is such a successful online platform?



At the beginning of this year, Tencent launched its own SIM card, bookstores, and grocery stores. This range of offline products and services requires new methods for promotion and connecting its brand with the physical world. Tencent’s new grand strategy was to link the Tencent brand with ordinary peoples’ daily lives.



In order to fulfil this target, Tencent had to appear in people’s daily lives both offline and online. Therefore, The giant poster in Hongqiao Stadium Railway Station was an attempt at implementing Tencent’s new strategy.



It is worth mentioning that Tencent even invited Bora Milutinović, the former coach who lead China into the 2002 World Cup, to sign his name on this giant poster.



Bora Milutinović and Tencent’s giant poster



It is hard to deny that the idea of Tencent’s giant poster is a brilliant idea for offline marketing. It is also a brilliant idea to show Tencent’s determination on business transformation.


China’s World Cup Economy



Although China’s football team only participated in the World Cup once in 2002, China still carries a lot of weight in the World Cup. Furthermore, as the closest economic and political ally of Russia, China’s companies played very important roles in the 2018 Russia World Cup.



According to a survey by The Economist, among the official 19 sponsors in the 2018 World Cup, 7 of them were Chinese companies. The Economist also says that in the 2014 Brazil World Cup, sponsors donated a total amount of 1.1 billion US dollars.



Moreover, the image of China appeared everywhere in Russia during the 2018 World Cup. For example, the mascot of the 2018 World Cup, Zabivaka, and its derivatives were all made in China.



A doll of Zabivaka



Kayford, a sports company in Zhejiang Province, was in charge of creating and designing Zabivaka. It won the contract from FIFA and the Russian government to create over 100 kinds of goods and souveneirs for the event.



In addition, there were over 40,000 Chinese tourists who traveled to Russia to watch the World Cup games. A survey estimated that Chinese tourists brought over 10 million dollars of economic value to Russia.



The official website of Kayford



On the other hand, in the domestic market, rebroadcasters like CCTV, Tencent Video, and Youku paid over 800 million dollars for advertisements during the World Cup. According to the statistics presented by CCTV, there were over 600 million viewers in China who watched the 2018 World Cup.



In conclusion, the 2018 World Cup was a massive economic drive for both Russia and China. With the development of China and Russia, there will be more varieties of companies participating in the World Cup economy in the future.








Naturally, it is extremely difficult for companies to develop their business in China without any help and guidance. We understand the difficulty and we are here to help! Dragon social has the best strategy and the most professional teams to help you anytime, anywhere. Please do not hesitate to contact us and tell us what you need!


Also, please visit our website for more information and professional analysis about marketing in China!


Dragon Social stays are up-to-date with any trends in China social media marketing.  Contact us or read more to know how to be a successful short video celebrity in China? Check them it out here:


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Wilson Li
Wilson Li

Acquired Master of Arts degree at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. A native of Mainland China with a strong passion for marketing and the high-tech industry in China. Currently working for the Dragon Social as a content marketer.

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