Following the release of its second installment, China's microblog network Weibo was buzzing about the mini-series 再一次心跳 (Heartbeat Love). For a period, it was a top ten trending topic on the social website.
The "micro-film" is being broadcast online at China's video sharing site Tudou in five 45-minute segments. The story chronicles the dramatic romance of a young Chinese couple, played by wildly popular duo Rainie Yang and Show Luo.
The romance kicks off in Australia, which makes sense — the whole movie is funded by the The Australian Tourism Commission. We spoke with Leo Seaton, manager of media relations for Tourism Australia, about the unique branded entertainment campaign.
Brandchannel: Why this kind of longform film and these particular stars?
Tourism Australia: The digital format—consisting of five 10 minutes episodes of the drama, together with five five-minute destination videos—is a great way of getting across Destination Australia content to a large audience, estimated at up to 10 million, across Greater China, one of our key markets.
Advocacy is a major part of TA’s public relations strategy which includes the Friends of Australia program, creating a relationship between TA and Australian and international celebrities who advocate Australia as a holiday destination. The Visiting Opinion Leaders program is also an integral part of TA’s public relations strategy, bringing influential opinion leaders from around the world to Australia.
Show Lo is one of most popular celebrities in Greater China who, through his singing, acting and TV hosting activities, engages with nearly ten million followers on Sina.com and eight million followers on QQ—two of China’s leading social media platforms. Rainie Yang has more than 7.5 million followers herself on QG.
Brandchannel: Is China now a primary focus for Australian tourism? What have you learned in targeting this group?
Tourism Australia: Tourism Australia's focus is based upon a "balanced portfolio" but also investing where it sees the best returns.
While Asia, led by China, is leading the charge in terms of growth—and is therefore a key focus for us in terms of the allocation of our resources—the traditional long haul western markets of the UK, Europe, the US and New Zealand will continue to be core to our business.
In terms of what we have learned in targeting the Chinese, have a look at this summary of recent consumer research we have carried out in china (PDF).
This has given us greater insight and understanding of their travel behaviours, and also an appreciation of the huge opportunities provided by china's secondary cities, especially the growing numbers of middle and upper classes who live in them.
Brandchannel: What has been the reaction to the film? Do you have metrics for measuring success?
Tourism Australia: Tourism Australia sees the potential and high engagement of online video portals and platforms in reaching Chinese consumers nationally in China and across the region. Influential celebrities generate word of mouth, not only for the China market but also amongst the Greater China region. Advocacy from influential celebrities and their own social media platforms greatly enhance product awareness and preference. The drama content and associated travelogue will also build knowledge of Australian travel experiences for consumers.
In April 2011, Show Lo visited Australia to hold music concerts in Sydney and Melbourne. With Tourism Australia’s sponsorship, Show Lo visited Far North Queensland to film ten five-minute segments which were broadcast nationally on China’s Travel Channel and online video platforms, with an estimated advertising value of AU$1.6 million. The visit also received coverage in approximately print media with an EAV of AU$330,000.
Also, three of Show Lo’ music videos were filmed in Australia and these, published with his recent music album, have provided an extended media opportunity for Australia to showcase our destination with other channels that we don't usually reach.
The Chinese audience appears to be in love with Australia's love story. "再一次心跳" (Heartbeat Love) continued to be a top ten Weibo trend for days after the premier of part two. Sample user comments include:
- "As long as my heart beats, I will love you." (衹要我的心還在跳動，我就會一直愛著你)
- "Have always liked Australia. After this, I really want to go!" (一直很喜欢澳大利亚！看了之后更加想去了!)
- "Watched "Heartbeat Love," next stop Australia!" (看看电影巜再一次心跳，我们下一站去澳大利亚!)
- "Great watch, I also want to go to Australia!" (好好看，我也想去澳大利亚~！)
To further support the already booming popularity of Heartbeat Love, Tourism Australia is host in additional promotions on social media and other websites, print media, a direct mail campaign and targeted specials with travel agents. It will also partner with airline Cathay Pacific.
Australia is not the only one courting the China tourism market. Chinese visitors are set to become second largest market for neighbor New Zealand in the next two years. Last year, New Zealand saw a 23.7 percent increase in Chinese visitors over the previous year.
Seaton says that the group will have more metrics soon, but with 62.4 million views of the clips (and climbing), it's difficult not to see it as anything but a success.
Besides helping Tourism Australia pitch the joys of visiting Down Under to young Chinese consumers, "Australia" isn't the only brand in evidence: