Can An Aspirational Web Character Sell Cognac in China?

According to The Wall Street Journal, “the line between advertisers and entertainment producers is rapidly blurring in China, as many brands go online with their own films and Web series, taking advantage of the shortage of popular shows on China’s state-controlled TV.”

Among the latest to jump on the bandwagon is French liquor company Pernod Ricard SA. In late April, Pernod launched an interactive online movie to promote one of its cognac brands, Martell Noblige.
Called “Style, Experience,” the film plays like a watered-down homage to James Bond and “The Bonfire of the Vanities.” The plot centers around a crucial day in the life of Ken, a dashing Shanghai native who tools around in a BMW, lives in a gunmetal-gray bachelor pad and has plenty of rich-boy toys.
Viewers determine the plot and length of the movie, which can last from eight to 18 minutes, as they “help” the hero make choices that could ultimately result in him getting promoted and winning the girl, or ending up dateless and jobless. (The movie airs on Martell’s local Web site

Once a brand realizes they need something more than a multi-page ad on their Web site, they search for a suitable answer to the content question. Entertainment is a great answer for many lifestyle brands, but I would caution that the entertainment needs to be entertaining. If it’s not entertaining, it’s just a sad placeholder for the non-entertaining multi-page ad that would have otherwise been there.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.