Over the years, football has become one of the most popular sports in China, with millions of fans tuning in to Western matches. Clubs like Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and FC Barcelona are well known and highly celebrated.
Football’s Chinese fanbase
Western football clubs want to strengthen their relationship with their passionate and growing Chinese fan base, but they face a major challenge:
Therefore, FC Barcelona wanted to show their Chinese audience that they cared with a heart-warming animated film to celebrate Chinese New Year.
#SPRING INTO COLOUR
The video tells the story of a family preparing for China’s most important holiday, Chinese New Year.
A family decorates their home, the adults are hectic, and a young boy seems lost amidst the adult chaos. When he hears children playing outside, he opens the door keen to get out and play with friends he hasn’t seen in a year.
Suddenly, a Barcelona football comes flying in. The ball shatters a Peking Opera mask on the wall, unleashing the boy’s imagination. The mask transforms into Lionel Messi and the explosion of colour ignites other masks on the wall into life.
More Barcelona players including Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Lieke Martens join the boy and his new friends to play football. Tired, but delighted with simple childhood pleasures, they all head into the family house to cheer for Barcelona on TV as they win a football match.
Nostalgia for past celebrations of Chinese New Year
Laden with traditional Chinese New Year cues, from decorations to dumplings, the film evoked the nostalgic emotion of a simpler, happier time.
China’s economic growth has been so rapid, and, in many cases, cultural expression was sacrificed in the name of progress. At Chinese New Year, traditionally, families would reunite and usher in the new year with rènào 热闹, a hustle and bustle, an atmosphere of excitement which only happened once a year. These happy and hectic preparations were almost as important as the celebration itself.
Family gatherings have seen a decline and when they do take place, the length of visits is shorter and very different to what they were in the past. It seems like the 热闹 is lost, the air and feel of Chinese New Year merely living in memories of a bygone time. Chinese Barcelona fans, who were young in the 80s and 90s, will remember this from their childhood and so the video brought them back to that time.
Building a meaningful connection with consumers
With over 6 million views on Weibo in just 3 days, the film and social prompts connected the brand and the audience on a far more meaningful level than a simple ‘Happy New Year ‘message’. The response showed that Chinese consumers appreciate brands coming up with an original idea to celebrate traditional festivals, rather than relying on cliché messages. Football clubs have a lot to win from appealing to Chinese consumers and need to adopt a creative approach and show that they care about their Chinese fans when marketing to China.
Brand: FC Barcelona
This article was adapted from Qumin’s own case study of FC Barcelona.