China Insights

Alipay commercial wins hip-hop ad campaign battle

Doreen Yan


Social 06.09.2017 / 09:20

Alipay so free

Reality show Rap of China creates hip-hop craze in China. Kantar Media CIC data shows whose hip-hop commercial is winning.

The Rap of China, a Chinese rap reality show by video website iQiyi, has become the most popular entertainment show in China since it was launched on June 24, 2017. Inevitably, many brands are jumping onto the hip-hop bandwagon to bank on the new cultural wave to build a “cool” brand for themselves, such as New Balance, Alipay as well as the official sponsors of the show McDonald’s and Nongfu Spring.

Alibaba’s payment service provider Alipay, which seems to be irrelevant to hip-hop, launched its “So Free” commercial music video featuring MC Jin and Tizzy T, both popular rappers in the show. The video is part of a campaign for Alipay’s Cashless Week from August 1 till 8. The lyrics were written by MC Jin and Tizzy T while video scenes reflected scenarios when young people use Alipay to pay for all kinds of items. To better echo MC Jin’s background as a US-born Hong Kong rapper who can sing in Mandarin, Cantonese and English, the song involved solos for him to rap in the bespoke three languages.

Alipay team created the MV in only five days and launched it on the August 1, the first day of the Cashless Week. The song has had an “ear-bug” effect on many audiences. As a follow-up, Alipay released more behind-the-scene video throughout the week to maximize the impact of the song. Even though Alipay is not an official sponsor of the show, it has benefited most from the hip-hop craze by launching a high quality hip-hop MV.


Weibo User Comments

Kantar Media CIC Weibo monitoring data showed that Alipay’s MV reached nearly 40 million impressions (39.95 million) and 11 layers of retweeting.


Data source:Kantar Media CIC Weibo Monitoring,by 2017.8.22

At the same time, New Balance’s hip-hop commercial MV, which also featured MC Jin, was not very well received, probably because its content was not attractive enough. It was a straight forward promotion of an up-coming event. The MV garnered 5.28 million impressions and 5 layers of retweeting.

New Balance



Data source:Kantar Media CIC Weibo Monitoring,by 2017.8.22

Nongfu Spring, one of the three official sponsors of the programme, on August 1 launched its hip-hop MV featuring Sun Bayi, another rapper in the show. Its result was frustrating: 1.46 million impression with only 3 layers of retweeting. The biggest problem of this MV, in my eyes, is that Sun has very limited influence compared to MC Jin, and the content of the MV is not easily memorable.


Data source:Kantar Media CIC Weibo Monitoring,by 2017.8.22

What Kantar Media CIC Says

Connecting brand to a hot topic or a cultural trend is a common marketing tactic. The real objective of such approach, as is true with all marketing efforts, is to lift brand awareness and enhance brand preference among targeted audiences. Brand should consider following factors before initiating such a project:

* Connection. Find a connection between the brand and the hot topic/trend, and play up the connection naturally. Alipay emphasized the buzzword "freestyle" and creatively linked it with the Cashless Week theme to free people from the burden of their wallets.

* In-depth cooperation with KOL. KOLs have strong influences, including some hot topics or trends. Brands need to select KOLs that match their brand attributes with sizable fan bases, and sit down with them together to work out a true and sincere piece of content that can resonate with both the trend and their fans.

* Easy to remember. Marketing campaigns should effectively promote brand messages so that targeted audiences could remember them. Hip-hop music worked well for this purpose because they usually have repeated verses, strong rhythm and eye-catching scenes. Alipay’s “So Free” MV leveraged these elements by weaving Alipay key messages into the lyrics seamlessly and repeating them multiple times.

* Viral potential. Powerful social campaigns often address social users concerns and pain points. Only through these meaningful communications can brands persuade social media users to voluntary retweet branded contents. In this case, Alipay’s MV not only connected the buzzword “freestyle” to its brand message, but also had smart lyrics and natural hip-hop flows that stimulated users to retweet it to realize the campaign’s viral potential.

Source: Kantar Media CIC

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