In July 2009, an anonymous user posted the sentence “Jia Junpeng, your mom is calling you to eat at home” on a World of Warcraft forum. Within 24 hours, it was viewed 1.5 million times, got over 200,000 comments and was reposted and quoted on at least 7,000 webpages. It quickly developed into a media tsunami inside and outside China.
The brain behind the phenomenon is Ao Chunhua, CEO of a small website marketing company based out in Chonqing. He hired over 800 people to register over 20,000 online IDs to flood the forums and create 100,000 replies / postings to drive traffic to World of Warcraft.
Why did it become such a success?
- China’s youth are the driving force behind online growth. They love to social network and reach out and connect online.
- The sentence “mom calling you home to eat” triggers an instant emotional response. The Chinese fondly recall childhood memories of playing outside and being called by their mother to come home to eat once dinner was ready.
- The Internet is a breeding ground for creativity, ideas, and testing out of marketing strategies.
- Viral marketing or word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing is a highly effective way to reach out and communicate with Chinese consumers. Chinese consumers shy away from traditional media and puts emphasis on guanxi (personal relationship). A recent survey found that nearly 40% of Chinese men aged 18-34 ranked word-of-mouth marketing as their top influence for electronic purchases.
- Viral marketing is also a cost-effective way of reaching target groups and building brands. As everywhere in the world, traditional advertising on television, radio, or in print is expensive.