In China, May 20 is for lovers, because the numbers for the calendar date, 5/20, sound similar in Chinese to "I love you." Marketers try to cash in on the mini-holiday with clever digital campaigns; P&G worked with online giant Alibaba's VR lab GnomeMagic to come up with one of the more interesting ones.
Two celebs, Yang Yang and Dilireba, star. To get to the campaign, people use Alibaba's Taobao mobile shopping app to scan a QR code. Then a choice pops up for a virtual girlfriend or boyfriend.Select male actor Yang Yang, slip your phone into a VR viewer, and suddenly it looks like you're a young woman in pajamas lying in bed, chatting with the celeb. You can see your hands pinching his cheek, and when he brings you breakfast in bed, you playfully smear a little egg on his face. Later, he'll reappear, whisper sweet nothings, inhale the scent of your hair, get down on his knees and propose.
The dream doesn't last forever. Suddenly your romantic lover is selling you hair products from P&G brand Rejoice (maybe because you have to shower after your little food fight?). You can move around your VR viewer to put the products into the shopping cart. The campaign's home screen touts other P&G brands including Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Crest and Pampers. For people without a VR viewer, there are also ordinary videos of the stars.
So what's this all about? In China, long-established consumer goods giants have to work hard to stay relevant to young consumers, and this campaign seems to be an example of that.
P&G and Unilever are under pressure in China, where inexpensive local personal care brands have been gaining ground, as have innovative beauty products from Korea. China has embraced online shopping fast, and now it's the world's No. 1 e-commerce market. On Alibaba's platforms, novelty-seeking young consumers have their pick of products from all over the world. P&G has to give them extra reasons to stick with the brands their parents use.