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How To Be A Real-Time Marketing Pro In China

By Breanne Meng, Contributing Writer at The Marketing Scope.

Cheap and effective, real-time marketing is becoming THE strategy for raising brand awareness in China. However, what is usually missed by brands is that this strategy is actually a double-edged sword, since misusing it could damage brand equity. Read on and learn the dos and don’ts from Durex – A.K.A the king of real-time marketing on Weibo, one of the most popular social media platforms in China.

Over the years, Durex has continuously impressed Weibo users with its witty posts. Back in June 2011, when Beijing was flooded in massive rain, Durex’s “I am glad that I left two Durex in my purse” post on Weibo, brought laughter to the gloomy Beijing residents, and was instantly shared over 70,000 times.

real time marketing

In 2015, 41-Year-Old JD CEO Qiangdong Liu Got Married to a 22-Year-Old Social Media Celebrity. This was obviously a hot topic in the region and Durex was able to capitalize on it in a clever way.

“See how happy the innocent couple smiles.”

real time marketing

How did Durex’s real-time marketing strategy achieve such success?

They Are Selective

When brands rode out Beijing Uniqlo’s sex tape scandal on Weibo in July, Durex – which usually responded to social events instantly – stayed silent. The brand’s unusual behavior caught everyone’s attention. #WakeUpDurexsSocialMediaEditor was the hottest topic on Weibo, and #Durex climbed all the way up to become the most searched keyword for the day. When the public realized that the brand deliberately chose not to respond to the event, posts and comments that praised Durex as a rare brand that holds moral standard spread wildly on Weibo. By saying nothing, Durex effectively differentiated itself from other brands, and won the most publicity and positive brand association. Real-time marketing 101 – not every event should be acted on.

They Think Beyond Raising Impressions

For many brands, their current real-time marketing strategy is to hit fast when there is an event and wish that one of many balls will hit the bull’s eye. Unfortunately, they are usually disappointed and find that the engagement generated by the post is so low that they question if it is worth the extra office hours and the money they paid for coffee.

To create a successful real-time marketing post, a brand needs to think beyond raising impressions. The first question marketers need to ask themselves is if the message delivered matches the brand’s value proposition. The brand needs to ensure that its real-time marketing posts convey consistent messages and do not diverge from the brand culture.

Marketers also need to evaluate if the post encourages viewers to consume the product. Budweiser’s “Lost Dog” ad was considered the ultimate winner of the Super Bowl commercials. However, research has shown that the popularity failed to translate to a brand lift due to lack of relevance. Watching a cute lost dog returning home could be touching, but it does not make you want to drink beer.

On the other hand, Durex’s posts are exceptional for skillfully and wittily transforming social events into situations that encourage the purchase of its products. One of the most popular social events in the tech world? Apple events. I’ll never look at Apple’s media invitations the same way.

real-time marketing real-time marketing

Another hugely popular even in the region? Football (or soccer). Durex used the opportunity to encourage men to pay back their significant others once the season ended. This campaign ran following the 2014 FIFA World Cup:

“The ‘ball’ season has ended. It’s time to pay back.”


They Look Long-Term

The goal for a real-time marketing post should be strengthening consumer relationships through sharing the brand’s aspect on social events, creating connections, and stimulating conversations. Replying to users’ comments, asking questions at the end of the post, and offering prizes to users who reply are ways to encourage engagement. Without the continuous efforts of nurturing the relationship, a successful post will just be a one-hit wonder that barely does anything for a brand’s long-term success. Keeping this in mind, following the 2015 Beijing sandstorm, Durex ran this campaign for its Durex Air brand.

“The sky is too dirty. We need good air”


What have been some of your favorite real-time marketing tactics? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Breanne Meng is a Contributing Writer at The Marketing Scope. You can find her on Twitter @breannemeng.



Eric Vidal
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