How Tencent brought the moon closer to WeChat users during Mid-Autumn Festival

The original plan was to encourage WeChat users to donate their walking steps via WeRun.

In a bid to change up the usual routine of sending greetings to friends and families in China through social platforms like WeChat during the Mid-Autumn festival, Tencent created a mixed reality campaign aimed at symbolising the strong power of Chinese culture.

Called “Moonments”, the tech giant combined the festival, which celebrates the full moon that appears at the end of the autumn harvest, and the Great Wall. It used its social platform WeChat to acquire user locations with their permission, allowing them to lift up their phone to find and focus on the moon in the sky.

Users then follow the instructions to use their phone to focus in on the moon and activate their journey. They can see the moon, dive into one of the 10 parts of the Great Wall and navigate a range of layouts of the moon behind the wall.

Once users decide the layout they like, they can tap anywhere to snapshot then choose the message (one of 25 different ancient Chinese poems about the moon), creating their own posters. They will be able to download the visual and publish on Moments.

Akae Wang, an executive creative director in the corporate marketing and public relations department at Tencent, tells The Drum the campaign is part of the Shenzhen-based company’s brand strategy to connect everyone and drive social campaigns for their one billion users.

“Sharing posts on Tencent's WeChat Moments has been the most important daily social behaviour in China’s social environment, therefore it was critical to creating a simple but a creative H5 idea which has the potential to go viral on the platform. Then the idea of the moon (mid-autumn festival) + moment (WeChat Moments) came to mind,” he explains.

“It is said that the moon is the brightest and roundest during this time, and this is the main reason why this festival is of such importance. We may be far apart in terms of physical distance but we are still able to share the beauty of the moon together.”

The brief from Tencent’s creative team to its creative agency Stink Studios was simple – to bring users to the Great Wall to enjoy the moon.

The original plan was to encourage WeChat users to donate their walking steps via WeRun (a daily step count function inside WeChat) for the Great Wall Protection Fund as the Great Wall symbolizes the strength of Chinese culture and this campaign is a tribute to China’s 70th national birthday in October.

Katherine Lee, managing director, Shanghai at Stink Studios explains to The Drum that a week after the shop received the brief, another campaign with a similar idea was launched on WeChat by another team.

It forced the shop to is come up with this new concept. She says the team did extensive research to find the best creative execution to bring WeChat users a fresh experience.

One of the first challenges Stink Studios faced was how to strike a balance between craft and data, especially when the shop was working with a tech company that has all statistics to support every decision they make.

Lee says this is reflected the most in the UX and UI design because every “extra” step or icon will be regarded as the key to win or lose users throughout the course of the experience.

“Especially since users in China are used to fast, direct and fancy visual effects - it’s difficult for them to appreciate the craft side of things - which sometimes, by nature, requires multiple steps to build up and to immerse the user. We spent a lot of time discussing how to have a good balance with copywriting and transition effects,” she explains.

“Secondly, the way we built the 10 Great Wall Pass and the moon with complete 3D models is very challenging to implement in the Wechat platform. To secure the smooth experience for both IOS and Android users, we have to give up quite a few effects, such as the fog, the meteor, the wind, the depth of view, etc.”

She continues: “The last and most surprising thing is the selection of poems. 25 ancient Chinese poems were provided in the beginning; however, the selection was cut to 5 the night before launch as some poems were regarded as carrying hidden meanings which are not appropriate in this instance.”

Tencent’s Wang claims in the first six hours of the campaign after it was launched, it had reached seven million users and 1.7m people had completed the experience.

He adds that the campaign reached 15.69% engagement rate, a big leap compared with the average engagement rate in 2019 of 0.6%.

“The “WeChat fission” practice brings three times the sharing capability than paid media does – meaning entire circles of friends were immersed and spontaneously shared this campaign on their Wechat moment, which also contributes to the donation of Great Wall protection,” he explains.

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