- Vivo’s X90 series campaign harnesses the power of nostalgia marketing by tapping into Chinese youth’s childhood favourite cartoon: “Nezha Conquers the Dragon King”.
- With rapidly rising competition in the mobile industry, being fashionable in the market has become a fundamental criterion for Chinese shoppers.
- Brands seeking to capitalise on IP marketing can do research to find an IP that hit a peak in popularity when its consumer base was around 12 to 22 years old for music or 6 to 15 years old for cartoons.
In recent years, nostalgia IP marketing has proved to be a remarkably successful marketing strategy in terms of reeling in a younger Chinese demographic. Smartphone maker Vivo has capitalised on such sentiment by fusing its modern technology with the nostalgia of classic Chinese cartoons.
In honour of its latest launch of the X90 series, the Chinese smartphone Vivo partnered with Shanghai Animation Film studio to create a short film in which a classic Chinese cartoon “Nezha Conquers the Dragon King” would be played out as a traditional shadow puppet show.
“You probably watched Nezha Conquers the Dragon King when you were young,” said the narrator in the campaign video. “But you have not seen it taken by Vivo X90 Pro+ camera under extremely dark conditions.”
During the shooting process – which was shot entirely with the Vivo X90 – there was only one candle to light the whole scene. Despite such dark conditions, however, the phone managed to capture colours and details showcasing the advanced technology of the device’s night lenses.
Apart from standard Mandarin Chinese, the shadow puppet show was also filmed in five different dialects including Sichuanese and Cantonese, thereby increasing accessibility across the nation.
Cultural marketing through shadow puppetry
Shadow puppetry, also known as “Shadow Play” (皮影戏 pí yǐng xì), has been an integral part of Chinese culture and is said to have originated in China over two thousand years ago during the Han Dynasty. In fact, shadow play was very popular during the Tang (613 – 907 AD) and Song (960 – 1279 AS) dynasties in several parts of China.
As such, not only did the dark-lit performance of the art form make it a perfect opportunity for Vivo to step in and showcase its latest smartphone’s best features, but it also leveraged the Chinese youth’s nostalgia for their favourite childhood shows.
Moreover, by blending both traditional with technological elements, the campaign ended up resonating relatively well with domestic patriotic audiences. According to Jingdaily, Launchmetrics found that it earned 2 million RMB ($277,000) MIV as of December 2022.
The power of co-branding with nostalgic IP
The main character Nezha, who at times appears alongside the better-known folk deity the Monkey King, is well known to local viewers, thanks to an array of films, TV shows, and pop culture appropriations that have popped up over the past few decades.
The 1979 animated film “Nezha Conquers the Dragon King” (哪吒闹海) which screened out of competition at Cannes, first popularized the character. Later, when it become an animated movie in 2019, raked in more than $700 million at the local box office, overtaking Disney animations Zootopia and Coco (two of the biggest animated hits in China) by a colossal margin.
In addition, another highlight of the film is the commentary. Considering that this story is already familiar to the public, in order to increase the freshness and interest, Vivo added some Internet stalks such as “walking alone in a dark alley” and “you are not fighting alone” in the commentary to make the overall story more interesting.
According to Daxue Consulting, some of the young Chinese adults’ favourite cartoons include the Chinese classic Journey to the West, the American cartoon Tom and Jerry, and the Japanese anime Crayon Shin-Chan.
In terms of sales performance, according to research conducted by Strategy Analytics, Vivo topped China’s smartphone market with a 21% market share in the third fiscal quarter of 2022 with 14.3 million units of smartphone shipments.
Undoubtedly, IPs carry nostalgic value for Chinese millennials and Gen Z. However, each consumer group has unique backgrounds and equally unique nostalgia triggers. Therefore, it is worth conducting in-depth consumer research to identify what IP is memorable for your consumer base based on age, gender, tier-city level and region. Find an IP that hit a peak in popularity when your consumer base was around 12 to 22 years old for music, or 6 to 15 years old for cartoons.
All in all, both the IPs of “Nezha” and the national art form “Shadow Puppetry” serves as a creative way to hook viewers and showcase the latest features found on Vivo’s latest mobile device.