South China Morning Post (SCMP) is a leading news media company that has reported on China and Asia for more than a century with global impact. Founded in 1903, SCMP is headquartered in Hong Kong, where it is the city's newspaper of record.
After being purchased by the Alibaba Group in 2016 and now under new leadership, SCMP developed plans on expanding into the U.S with two new digital products / news brands designed specifically for the American market: ABACUS, a mobile news site covering the China tech industry, and INKSTONE, a site/mobile app providing news about China.
Launch two all-new digital news brands, ABACUS and INKSTONE, in the U.S. market with distinctive campaigns and tactics that positioned each outlet as an authoritative voice in their area of focus -- all on a limited budget.
● SCMP has very little brand equity outside of Asia
● SCMP mistakenly regarded as a state-run media outlet
● Public concerns over SCMP's ownership by Chinese tech giant Alibaba
● Many existing U.S. media outlets are providing -- and expanding -- their coverage of China
● Position Abacus and Inkstone editorial team as China "insiders" with distinguished journalistic credentials and authoritative perspectives on the China tech industry and US-China relations, respectively
● Leverage current China-related headlines and cultural tentpoles (e.g., Chinese New Year) to demonstrate relevance of new products
● Selectively leverage SCMP's relationship with Alibaba to enhance campaign resources
● Align new products with reputable U.S. institutions and influencers
● Leveraged Alibaba's status as a New York Stock Exchange-listed company to secure Opening Bell Ceremony and reception for Abacus
● Organized Meet Ups groups between Abacus and Inkstone editors and KOLs
INFLUENCER ENGAGEMENT / SOCIAL MEDIA
● Produced and distributed Abacus Chinese New Year gift boxes to tech influencers
● Partnered with top Chinese American YouTubers, the Fung Bros., to collaborate on Inkstone brand video and content
● Produced two digital brand campaigns with original creative and hyper-targeting relevant audiences
● Implemented campaign across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
● Pitched Abacus and Inkstone editors as US-China experts to American media outlets
● Leveraged events and partnerships for media coverage
● Capitalized on current events as part of media pitches
PRE-LAUNCH / TEASE
● Distributed 75 Abacus Chinese New Year boxes to tech influencers for on-camera unboxing videos. Boxes contained a mix of "old" and "new" Chinese technology (e.g., an actual abacus and a wireless charging pad). Mailers also included an exclusive QR code that provided influencers with a personalized message and preview of the site.
● Produced digital advertising campaign utilizing existing assets and stock footage
● Partnered with influencers for user-generated and agency-produced content
● Arranged Opening Bell Ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange where Abacus Executive Producer Ravi Hiranan rang the bell. A pre-Opening Bell VIP reception was also organized for 75 leading tech influencers in NYC.
● Implemented national digital brand campaigns on behalf of both products
● Pitched and secured media opportunities for Abacus and Inkstone editors and spokespeople
● Organized Meets Ups with local tech, academic (Harvard) and student organizations (NYU)
● Public relations: (90 million media impressions, 206 pick ups)
● Media highlights: CNBC's Squawk on the Street, Bloomberg, Fox Business, Cheddar
● Website: 207,762 new visitors during launch period
● Social media: 4,851,443 total impressions (against 36K ad spend)
● #1 (SCMP) and #9 (Abacus) result for Google search term "China tech"
● Public relations: (81.4 million media impressions, 255 pick ups)
● Media highlights: Yahoo! Finance, Marketwatch, Cheddar, NECN
● Social media: 5,245,000 total impressions (against 43.5K ad spend) - 38,461 link clicks, 1.99M+ unique people reached
The success of these launches has laid the groundwork for SCMP third US digital product for Q3 of this year.