- Chinese cosmetics brand Proya wins over the public with a campaign that brings the issue of bullying in China’s schools to light, smartly tapping into the season.
- There is a lack of legal protection for victims and relevant punishments for predators due to the typically trivial nature of school bullying.
- By calling for more attention to be paid by a wider community to what is deemed as “trivial offences”, Proya has earned brownie points for showing its concern for society.
The overlooked side of school life
In sharp contrast to marketing campaigns that picture the happiness and excitement of students during the school opening season, Chinese cosmetics brand Proya has captured the fear and insecurity faced by schoolchildren who have lived through the nightmare of bullying, giving birth to the “Proya Firefly Scheme”.
In collaboration with China Education Television, the campaign calls for more attention from not only parents but also schools and the wider public on any bullying behaviours, no matter how small it might be. In a short film, the brand documents moments such as splashing a classmate while riding through a puddle, ridiculing others for their outfit or appearance or deliberately damaging others’ belongings.
These “trivial” offences are coupled with “banter” such as “I’m just messing around”, “I didn’t mean it” and “don’t be so sensitive about it”. The campaign’s core message that “no bullying is too small to be seen” is reflected within the plot as bullying can soon escalate and develop into violent bodily harm, further traumatising victims and impacting their mental health.
More awareness for “invisible” victims
School bullying has been the elephant in the room in China and has so far caught far fewer media attention compared to the West. Yet, the issue remains prominent at home. A 2021 survey by China Youth Daily of school kids in six Chinese provinces found the rate of bullying incidents stood at 32.4%, with verbal bullying being the most common at 17.4%.
Earlier research conducted by the same state news media outlet in 2016 suggests a more severe situation in China’s rural areas, where 36% of children attending boarding schools in less advanced areas have fallen victim to bullying.
Due to the triviality of most incidents, school bullying has not yet been included in the three major legislations that are designed to safeguard children and teenagers, including the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Protection of Minors, Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Law and Compulsory Education Law. As a result, there is a lack of legal protection for victims and relevant punishments for predators. Most bullying occurs verbally but with inadequate details on record because the victims’ fear has made the issue even trickier to deal with.
A journalistic marketing approach
After bringing the long-standing dilemma in China’s education system to the spotlight, the timely campaign has garnered over 140 million views on China’s biggest microblogging site Weibo with the video drawing in more than 16 million plays as young parents are strongly resonating.
Some have even been prompted to recall when they witnessed school bullying in their childhood and agreed those behaviours can have a detrimental impact on individuals in the long term while echoing there is an insufficient effort being made in raising awareness of identifying such incidents even in today’s schools.
Proya’s focus on social issues in their marketing practice has once again earned themselves brownie points with netizens, who confessed that the brand’s concern for the wellbeing of schoolchildren and its earlier campaigns dedicated to women’s rights are the main reasons they became loyal fans. The brand has even been praised for its journalism, pushing societal changes whilst also prompting other brands to rethink their roles in society.
By tapping into a social cause, Proya is able to create impact beyond marketing, therefore, enhancing its brand value while winning over consumers for its “deep observations” on society. The unique angle in leveraging the school season also allows Proya to set itself apart from other marketers, resulting in a more memorable campaign.