More than once, I’ve mentioned just how great the marketing stunt that ‘Blairwitch Project’ pulled to promote their movie. With practically no budget, they put together a website dedicated to the Blairwitch, a [made up] story about a witch that supposed to have been taking people but no one knows what the witch does with them.
Oddly enough, a luxury brand in China tried to pull the same marketing stunt.
China is a pretty difficult market to crack for any brand. You have to contend with the culture, confusing laws, languages and an actively evolving consumer mentality. It is but understandable for any brand, especially for a luxury one, to come up with some marketing stunt that will rise above the clutter.
Qilin, a high-end jewelry brand, wanted to make a splash. Fred & Farid Shanghai, Qilin’s advertising agency, took inspiration from the inspiration of Qilin’s name, Qeelin. Qeelin is an old Chinese mythological animal made of lion, ox and dragon. For years, the qilin has been represented as sculptures in front of temples or pictures in traditional paintings but nobody has ever seen a living qilin.
Fred & Farid Shanghai decided to take this myth and make Chinese people believe that Qilin really existed.
How They Did It
Fred & Farid Shanghai manipulated old photos and photoshopped Qilin in it. They then commissioned some of the popular bloggers on Weibo and Wechat, the two most powerful social networks of China.The bloggers then posted the photos on their sites. Almost immediately, people caught on and a great debate on whether or not the myth was, in fact, real. They also created a video were the Qilin was supposed to have been caught by the camera.
#Babyqilin# immediately became a hot topic as others joined in the debate and yes, some of those who joined in the discussion firmly believed that Qilin existed. Some blogger even researched the original photos and videos to prove that it was all a hoax.
The campaign resulted to more than 30,000 reposts, 15,000 comments on Weibo and 35 million views, in just 5 days.
After four days, Qeelin and Fred & Farid Shanghai came clean and revealed that it was all a stunt to promoted the relaunch of Qeelin. The important thing was that 2.1 million people attended the post reveal on Weibo. Hoowever, there is a huge difference between attention and proper branding.
The discussion should go into the kind of image that it attached to the brand of Qeelin. As a consumer, how would you feel about a brand who knowingly created a hoax just to get attention. There will always be two sides. There are those who will think it was pretty cool for a brand to trick millions of people and then there are those who would think it is a cheap shot at getting attention.
For Blairwitch Project, the stunt matched the product. It was a movie. It is fiction but Qeelin is a brand that sells expensive jewels. I personally wouldn’t advice my client to create a hoax but then again, I am not from China.
Advertising Agency: FRED & FARID SHANGHAI
Title of Ad: #BABYQILIN#
Advertiser/Client: QEELIN (KERING GROUP)Chief Creative Officer: Fred & Farid
Creative Director: Feng Huang
Copywriters: Aser Cao, Frankie Shen
Art Directors: Pierrick Jégou, Wei Tang, Linh Vu, Pauline Pérol
Brand Supervisor: Guillaume BROCHARD
Advertiser’s Supervisor: Guillaume Leroux
Retouchers: Am Wang, Henry Lam
Producer: Wang Chen
Media Strategists: Yi Zhang, Sen Liu