BEIJING: Major advertisers like Anheuser-Busch InBev, Unilever and L'Oréal are utilising online video series in a bid to connect with consumers in China.
AB InBev, the brewing giant, is sponsoring "That Love Comes", the first original drama serial developed by Tudou Orange Box, the production unit belonging to one of China's biggest video-sharing services.
This initiative supports BudLime, which has been integrated into the plot, with both product and show aimed at young, fashionable females.
"Digital media is getting more and more popular. We'll be very aggressive in 2010. Our goal is to dominate cyberspace," said Vivian Yeh, AB InBev's new media manager.
That Love Comes focuses on the relationship between a male cosmopolitan photographer and a girl from a rural area.
Yeh argued it thus constituted an ideal vehicle for BudLime, which features in pre-roll ads, background banners and a TV spot in every episode.
"The story fits our product key communication, 'Turn on the night,'" she added. "[The photographer] has a glamorous life, which fits the lifestyle of our target audience for BudLime."
Going forward, this effort may be made available for download via mobile phones, and could possibly even offer an iPad app in the future.
Unilever, the FMCG firm, similarly partnered with Jiangsu Media to create a series called "Unbeatable", promoting shampoo brand Clear and based on the haircare range's tagline.
Some 36 episodes will run simultaneously on six provincial satellite stations and six online video sites, following young people working in a fictional PR agency, and discussing "love, betrayal and office politics".
"We believe in the importance of establishing Clear's cool, trendy and 'unbeatable' emotional connection with our consumers," said Maxwell Xu, brand director haircare, Unilever China.
"There is no better way to communicate and engage them than through stories they can identify with."
Clear's overall positioning will be reflected in the narrative, theme tune, related music video and an interactive game.
Media agency PHD built a microsite containing cast interviews on internet portal Sohu, and Kaixin001, the social network, microblogging service Weibo, blogs on Sina and forums were used to drive word of mouth.
Elsewhere, cosmetics specialist L'Oréal has launched an eight-part series championing its Yue Sai brand, broadcast on fashion site Yoka.com.
Each installment lasts 15 minutes, and deals with the problems facing three young professional women, having been inspired by real stories collected from netizens.
General Motors also worked alongside Youku and the China Film Group to make 11 short clips, one of which is uploaded to the web per week.
All entries to the "11 Degrees Project" features the Chevrolet Cruze, and viewers leaving comments and spreading content virally could win a car.
Around 100,000 people have signed up to the Chevrolet Cruze website, and the first clip received 1.4m hits in its opening three days on Youku.
Data sourced from AdAge; additional content by Warc staff