Social Media meets China’s Ancient Mooncake Festival

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Hong Kong this week is preparing to celebrate the mid-Autumn festival, an event that gathers families to hang red lanterns, light candles and eat Mooncakes.

Mooncakes are an extremely sweet pastry-covered delicacy containing egg yolk and lotus seed paste. (The egg yolk represents the full moon) They are best consumed as a desert with dark Chinese tea.

In what may be a first for this bastion of ancient Chinese culture, Mooncakes now have a social media strategy.

WHERE: Hong Kong

WHO: Maxim, one of Hong Kong’s largest fast-food retailers

WHAT:
A Social Media campaign to promote their Snowy moon cake line. (Unless anyone else can name it, we will go out on a limb and say this is – drum roll, please – the world’s first Mooncake social media campaign.)

HOW:
Developed by local PR Agency “Igoo Communications”, Maxim’s launched a microsite to engage both young and old Hong Kong residents. The campaign builds on the recent YouTube-frenzy/viral video craze among the youth culture by encouraging people to upload a 15-second videos that shows the “coolest” way of enjoying Maxim’s Snowy mooncakes. Unlike traditional mooncakes, the Snowy mooncakes are partly made of ice cream.

THE PRIZE?

The winning video stands a chance of winning a grand cash prize of HK$100,000. Other prizes include restaurant coupons and iPhones.

THOUGHTS:

It is interesting to note that Maxims sells both traditional bread-crusted and ice cream crusted snowy moon-cakes – but the two products are sold very differently.

The traditional bread-crusted mooncakes target the middle-aged and old using standard advertisements and traditional PR. The traditional campaign aims to take people down memory lane and remind the non-stop workaholics of Hong Kong that they still have a family to think about and a culture to be proud about.

The youth-focused “Snowy Mooncakes”, on the other hand, are branded and sold as something quite literally “cool”.

How did they do it? Maxims gave the not-so-cool mooncake a “physical” and “thoughtful” makeover by following our constant advice to clients: “Listen to your consumers!”

Maxims did, and here’s what they found: Hong Kong kids told Maxim’s they prefer a Haagen-Dazs ice-cream cake over a normal cake from the local bakery. Maxims did well by first scanning the likes and dislikes among youth before targeting a product that would definitely hit them. That’s not enough however. Maxim’s Snowy Mooncake has outdone other competitors by sending out their message using the right channel. You don’t have to be a social media expert to know that kids are about the Internet.

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Some companies are hesitant to launch a social media campaign for fear the effectiveness cannot be measured in a concrete way – “social media doesn’t necessarily drive sales”, “you can’t control how many people visit the site”, “At least an ad’s out there, with social media its uncertain”, and what I hear most often “Too Risky: it’s either a success or failure”.

Those naysayers are missing the point: Kids know it, love it and appreciate it when brands listen and converse with them in a meaningful way. Maxim’s for example wanted to make “Snowy” a fun and casual brand. Their campaign asks kids to show the coolest way to enjoy “Snowy”.

Truth is, the only way to eat a moon-cake (or anything!) is by stuffing it in your mouth. Maxims probably didn’t intend for people to come out with videos called “Maxims Pain-killer Moon-Cakes” (5287 votes by the way!) but that’s the beauty of social media – spontaneity and surprises.

Competing videos ranges from hipster rapping and remixes to young parents showcasing their dancing and laughing babies. So no doubt, innovation and an exciting atmosphere is what is rocking this campaign!