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Asian Innovation in Marketing — Integrated Online Branded Communities

There is a perception that Asia lags North America in terms of social media uptake and marketing innovation. Not true. Take for example global mobile marketing leadership in Korea and Japan, or the strong role played by online in Cannes Lions Grand Prix award winners from Japan, India and Australia. The inaugural Cannes PR Lion winner and star-of-the-show "The Best Job in the World" from Australia is a great example of how the most powerful global marketing campaigns today are anchored by a great idea, but brought to life by excellently executed integrated online and offline elements.

One area that is getting marketers in Asia excited is social networks – especially owned and branded communities. Generally, there are two approaches to engaging and bringing together online communities—going where their audiences are already active (e.g. Facebook, Mixi (Japan), CyWorld (Korea) etc), or creating a branded digital asset compelling enough to bring target audiences to the brand.

An example of such a branded community is the one currently being executed by our Edelman Digital team in China for BMW. We have worked with the client to build, implement, and manage an exclusive BMW-branded online community, available to up to 150,000 BMW owners in the China market. The community helps extend the relationship with BMW post-purchase and increases loyalty by allowing a group of people who are passionate about their cars to mix, mingle and share content and tips amongst each other. The 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that in China conversations with friends and peers were a more credible source about a company or its products than information directly from the company. The power of this finding reflects the rational for establishing communities such as this.

My BMW Club

In the same vein, but a slightly different focus, brands in China are starting to create "entertainment" mini-sites that offer series-formatted interactive branded video content, with digital touch points across a variety or 3rd party platforms (video sharing sites, portals, SNS, etc.). Master Kong Iced Tea was the most recent to try this. Sony, together with Clinique, also executed a similar effort called "Sofia's Diary." P&G, together with ELLE magazine is doing this as well with its An Yu Anxun (安与安寻) series. Intel also tried its hand at a similar campaign in 2008 with its "Break Jiong Hero" (rough translation, no proper English name, 被冏英雄6+1) online drama. Brands in China, and elsewhere across Asia, are smart to be enabling online communities, because entertainment and insight is what local netizens want.

Underpinning all these campaigns was great insight gained from comprehensive online intelligence gathering and ongoing monitoring and analysis of Internet word of mouth conversations and social media activities to help inform marketing and communications strategies and engagements tactics.

Read more of the Edelman blog on Fast Company.

Alan VanderMolenBased in Hong Kong, Alan VanderMolen serves as President of Edelman's Asia Pacific region, overseeing operations in eighteen Edelman offices in 10 markets. Since joining Edelman in 2002, VanderMolen has broadened the firm's traditional consumer marketing focus into a full-service offer lead by Corporate Reputation work, Healthcare Communications, Technology Communications and Public Affairs. VanderMolen has also overseen the development of significant proprietary intellectual capital in the areas of Stakeholder Relations, Corporate Trust, Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Media.