How Adidas successfully used Chinese Culture in their New Year campaign

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How Adidas successfully used Chinese Culture in their New Year campaign



China’s economy has been rapidly growing for decades and is now firmly established to be the second largest economy in the world after the US. The Chinese market is experiencing the transition from a construction-driven to consumption-driven model. This has seen a steady rise in the number of international brands taking advantage of the Chinese New Year to attract Chinese customers.

Last year (the year of the pig) Gucci, Louis Vuitton, MAC and other international brands produced pig related products to attract Chinese people.

Year of the Pig related products from Gucci and Louis Vuitton

(source: Tencent News 2019)

In 2020 – the year of the rat – using the same strategy to attract Chinese consumers is too simplistic. There is a trend among younger Chinese consumers to purchase products which incorporate elements from Chinese culture. This is called “Guo Chao” in China which means “national fashion” and refers to clothing that uses traditional patterns and designs from ancient Chinese dynasties.

The best example is a Chinese sports brand, Li Ning. This used to be a traditional sports brand that was in competition with Nike and Adidas. However, Since Li Ning started producing “Guo Chao” products, it gained more market shares than Nike and Adidas in China.

Products incorporating Chinese culture are popular among young consumers

(source: Souhu News 2019 and BiliBili 2018)

After the transition, Li Ning has earned nearly 5 billion Chinese yuan in 6 months (around £500 million).

In 2020, Adidas has produced a well received collection times to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It has produced a video to showcase how to mix the Adidas’ brand identity with Chinese traditional culture.

Adidas user Chinese cultural elements in their Chinese New Year campaign

(source: Tencent Video 2019)

The video features 6 well known Chinese celebrities and was officially released on Christmas Day gaining 1.45 million video views on Tencent Video to date (Jan 22nd 2020). On Douyin (The Chinese version of TiK Tok), there are more than 7,600 videos that have been created with users applying Adidas’ New Year Ad hashtag. All these videos have generated more than 500 million views in one month.

It can be seen from the two examples from Li Ning and Adidas, to attract Chinese customers is not as easy as adding Chinese iconography into products. Chinese people like to see more creative elements when combining Chinese culture with products.

In the Adidas video, the logo of Adidas only shows up in several scenes. The whole video is based on a Chinese style, the two female celebrities represent two Chinese ancient characters, only the dancing, football and the archery are related to sports; diverting from Adidas key products.

In 2019, marketers in China have summarised that a good brand must understand Chinese culture to achieve resonance, especially with younger audiences. In other words, Chinese customers are more likely to accept a brand which is capable of producing good products and good content which uses Chinese traditional culture in a creative way.