Wuliangye gets on board with “Harbin fever”

With Chinese New Year fast approaching, the premium Chinese liquor maker Wuliangye, known for its proprietary “five-grain” version of baijiu, a Chinese wine made from fermented sorghum, is keen not to miss out on this winter’s biggest craze – “Harbin fever”. Harbin is the capital of China’s most northeasterly province, Heilongjiang.

To lend authenticity to its Harbin-themed campaign, the brand partnered with the city’s famous International Ice and Snow Festival, an annual event whose popularity is hitting new highs this winter. Wuliangye itself hails from Sichuan, a province far West of the snowy climes of the Northeast, which includes the provinces Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning.

With the slogan “The first sip when you touch down in Harbin”, the campaign promotes Wuliangye’s baijiu as a quintessential part of the winter festivities. Among other immersive experiences on offer as part of the event, consumers can enjoy eating hot pot inside an ice-sculpted palace – Wuliangye’s cosy check-in spot nestled in the hustle and bustle of the Ice and Snow Festival, a sprawling park of ice sculptures and fun fair attractions.

The promotional video for the campaign also unabashedly taps into the “Dongbei Renaissance” fad, with the actors clad in padded jackets in the iconic Northeastern floral pattern (Dongbei means Northeast in Chinese). Dongbei Renaissance started as a literary movement twenty years ago but has just recently hit the mainstream, with the culture of China’s industrial heartland now being celebrated in pop culture on a far more visible scale.

Winter is always the peak tourism season for snowy Harbin, but this year it has enjoyed unprecedented levels of popularity, perhaps propelled by the rise of the Dongbei Renaissance. The Heilongjiang capital reported a whopping 5.9 billion RMB (829.19 million USD) in revenue from tourism-related sectors during the 3-day New Year holiday period.

At the same time, a 158% increase in holiday bookings was reported, mostly from Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing. The craze has also spawned its own set of internet memes, like the moniker “Little Southern Potatoes” to describe the adorable appearance of Southerners who, unused to the cold, arrive in Harbin bundled up in layers.

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival will be open until early March.


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