SHANGHAI: Skincare communication in China was a sea of sameness, but the Swedish agency behind SK-II’s Marriage Market Takeover campaign leveraged its outside perspective to redefine category norms, a strategist on the award-winning campaign has explained.

“Every brand was shouting out loud, but no one really cared,” according to My Troedsson, Planner, and Susanna Fagring, Senior Client Director at Forsman & Bodenfors.

“Actually, the young women of China were looking for something else, something very rare in China at that time: a brand that made an effort to connect with them emotionally,” they explained in a WARC report.

For more on how campaigns are challenging cultural norms in Asia, download WARC’s recently released Asian Strategy Report 2017-2018

The viral campaign they devised struck a chord with consumers around the world, but especially in China. The SK-II campaign also won the Grand Prix in the 2017 WARC Prize for Asian Strategy.

“Even though we did not talk about SK-II products at all, sales exploded,” Troedsson and Fagring reported.

“It’s a bold step to move away from product benefits to emotional content based on shared values. But if a brand dares to reach out and truly connect with people, making them feel closer to the brand, that can make a real difference.”

As a Swedish agency with no presence in China, the team threw themselves into weeks of on-the ground market research and investigation, as they sought to understand the lives, struggles, and aspirations of Chinese women, before emerging with insights that would crack category norms.

“Understanding nuances and perspectives allowed us to approach a sensitive topic in an authentic way, without pointing fingers,” they wrote.

“And it made us and the client confident that we were on to something strong, making it easier to launch such a powerful campaign.”

Sourced from WARC