Now that the Chinese New Year holiday season has ended, China’s unmarried urbanites are breathing a sigh of relief after surviving another year of parental nagging to find a spouse. This year, beauty brands sparked buzz on social media tapping into the anxiety felt by single women as they headed home to face this common holiday sore point in China.
In a continuation of its ad series critiquing the idea of unmarried “leftover women” in China, skincare brand SK-II released a video campaign about three single Chinese women who avoided going home during the Chinese New Year break because of pressure from their parents to get married. The emotional video shows them reaching out to their parents to “meet each other halfway” literally and figuratively, traveling to meet at a new location for the holiday and having a heartfelt reunion.
Olay, meanwhile, launched a similar video called “New Year Next Stop,” which showed a woman on a train representing her life, with each destination determined by age–college graduation at 22, work at 23, and marriage at 28. Instead of heading to the “marriage” destination, she decides to get off the train and explore the world. To promote the campaign, the brand worked with commentators from the iQiyi sociocultural debate TV show Qipashuo, where they debated the question, “if there were a train that arranged everything for you, would you get on?” over Weibo.
These campaigns generated significant views and buzz: the SK-II video earned over 58 million views on Weibo and its ongoing #ChangeYourDestiny# hashtag used for posts on this theme is up to over 540 million views on the platform. Meanwhile, Olay’s campaign hashtag #NewYearNextStop# earned over 110 million views and 176,000 comments. Both Olay and SK-II were categorized as Gifted in Gartner L2’s new Digital IQ Index: Beauty China, benefiting from their success on social media platforms and on Tmall. Olay’s campaign promoted the brand’s hero ProX essence with links to purchase on Tmall from Weibo.
Olay and SK-II have both adopted female empowerment-themed branding in other markets like the US, and adapted this strategy for China by speaking to larger societal pressures surrounding the Chinese New Year holiday. The ability to demonstrate cultural competency was able to spark organic brand conversations and virality, a challenging feat in a a market where social reach is generally dominated by campaigns with pop idols.