China’s severe smog and air pollution haunt and vex every citizen in this land, especially the parents having little children who are certainly the most fragile victims among the all. We say adversity sometimes agitates inspiration and creates opportunity, thus comes the story of “Three Papas”.

3 Papas, the art of social marketing

Living in the most air contaminated city Beijing, three Chinese fathers, albeit without much engineering background, determined to design a more advanced mode of air purifier specifically for children, to give more protection not only for their own little kids but also for millions of other kids out there in this nation. Destiny is hard to run away from; once we bring life to a heavily toxic environment and put the health of our new generation into jeopardy, the least we can do is cleaning and filtrate the indoor air to lessen the harm to the minimum for the young and vulnerable.  

This simple idea was conceived in March 2014 and three fathers desperately needed some seed money back then. Luckily a VC from BanYan Capital gave them a check of USD 1 million, though not much impressed by their business proposal, rather touched by this loving project under the name of protecting the health of Chinese children since this VC happens to be a concerned father as well.

After several months of hard working and struggle, in September the prototype of children air purifier was revealed to the public. The typical bottleneck for “Three Papa” or any startup was marketing for a new brand, to make it known to the general mass. On September 22nd, they showcased their project on crowdfunding platform powered by JD, China’s second largest B2C online retailer specialized in consumer electronics. To up the ante of its marketing campaign, they knew they had to outsource a local agency to do the job.

This local agency knows the knack of social marketing. And in China the game rule should surround two channels: Weibo for celebrity endorsement and Wechat for network/loyalty influence.

The local agency first identified distinguished celebrity parents on Weibo and collaborated with them to push some emotional messages for “Three Papas”. Next it selected some top media accounts on Wechat, which tend to have larger followers and higher engagement rate targeted at parents for maternity and baby care topics, and paid them to disseminate the ideology of “Three Papas”.

Result: in a month, from September 22nd to October 22nd, “Three Papas” project raised over RMB 11 million on JD’s crowdfunding site, which set the record on China’s crowdfunding history so far.

Whether you call it magic or simply pulling rabbit out of hat, I perceive “Three Papas” truly understands how to efficiently devote money into image branding and idea broadcasting. The tailwind of crowdfunding success also facilitated its online shop opening, currently priced at RMB4999 and RMB999 for their two types of air purifiers.  

The explosion of fast pacing internet technology and social media have fundamentally changed the dynamic of how we present and package ourselves to the world. It never gets so easily to spread your words or concept, but it also gets never so easily to be buried under the flood of information. To catch the rollercoaster to allow your brand shine like a star above the common crowd, it does require certain genius to master the art of social marketing.  

By Cécilia Wu
English & Chinese Editorial Manager