It’s a time of grueling exams for millions of Chinese students, and for some brands it’s an important date in the yearly marketing calendars. Gaokao, known as one of the toughest exams in the world, is a topic that dominates discussions in social media and other platforms every June. This year, despite floods, earthquakes, and COVID-19, an approximate 10.7 million Chinese students still took the exam, which was postponed to July.
The standardized test is a life-changing event, as it’s the only factor which determines which student gets to attend college, and if so which college, which in turn dictates who gets a good job. On one hand, the exam is designed as a fair way of screening talent in a country with such a massive population. On the other hand, gaokao is surrounded by controversy. From university quotas, criticism of fierce competition and test scores-driven education, to unbearable psychological pressure leading to suicides— the exam is a triggering topic. That’s why, gaokao advertising can a be a sort of a minefield that brands need to carefully tip toe around as they try to connect to China’s youth. Yet at the same time, there’s little room for mistake. We’ve rounded up a selection of some of this year’s gaokao advertising campaigns.
The stationary brand joined the gaokao buzz with a commercial film that shows its products as a necessary companion. Through hardships, sleepless nights, and stressful days leading to the exam, the ad finishes on an optimistic note. “It is your battle, and it’s my battle too. Honored to accompany you in your fight!”— concludes the ad.
Social media agency 社交媒体代理商：RuderFinnGroup 罗德传播集团
Production 制作公司：YUMU Production
Lifeweek Magazine 三联生活周刊
In partnership with online education platform Xueersi, the magazine released a gaokao adjacent video with a message, that “Life has never been just an exam”. That is to say, when gaokao is behind, a new series of challenges await students in their life: maybe it’s independent life in a big city, a demanding job, building a family, or living in times when a pandemic strikes. As long as you keep moving forward without fear, every new challenge can be conquered.
The online education platform didn’t pass on a chance to wish students good luck, and gently remind them, that its services were important this year, more than ever. To the upbeat music, the brand mixed recreated scenes of gaokao preparation hardships, students dreams, pandemic influence and motivational copy into an overly emotional commercial film.
Creative agency 代理商: 星驰 (Starchaser)
Production 制作公司：PRO Films
The dairy brand’s promo video is purposefully attention-grabbing. Borrowing the idea and setting off this year’s first viral video “Next Wave” by Bilibili website, the ad introduces a Mengniu mascot addressing the students in a similar praising tone. Part of the bigger campaign with limited edition packaging, the ad centers around a gift by Mengniu to students— milk boxes with mock exam questions printed on them. Needless to say, unlike “Next Wave”, Mengniu’s video was not a viral hit.
蒙牛的这部品牌推广片相当抓人眼球。借鉴了今年火爆的B站《后浪》，片中的品牌吉祥牛用“后浪体”夸赞了本届的同学们。这部广告片配合蒙牛全面市场营销活动推出，放送的同阶段，蒙牛还配套生产了限量版的 “押题奶” 盒装牛奶。广告内容则是围绕蒙牛为同学们派送包装盒上有押题内容的“押题奶”展开。不过与《后浪》不同，蒙牛的这部广告片并没有掀起很大的风浪。
Agency 代理商: SocialLab