Strategic Communications

Brand Communication: SK-II’s Marriage Market Takeover

If you are a woman above the age of 25, well-educated, possessing A-level quality, living in traditional society in China, and unmarried, life might be a bit tough for you.

You might get used to the idea of being labeled as sheng nu, or in a universal term, a leftover woman[1]. Parents pushes you, trying to match you with someone, and start saying this “I won’t die in peace unless you’re married” magic spell to overshadow your mind for years.

Indeed, it is the worst feeling in the world.

Understanding this insight, a Japanese skin care brand, SK-II, decided to take side to support the voiceless outcasts. They reached out to modern women over their 25 age, who, despite of major accomplishments they achieved in life, still being perceived as unworthy before being someone else’s wife. Introducing a breakthrough documentary-style video, SK-II launched a commercial advertising with theme “Marriage Market Takeover”.  This video went viral, reaching over 2 million views on Youtube and almost 3 million on Youku.

Marriage market refers to Shanghai’s People’s Square market, place where parents comes to post their daughter profile, hoping find a suitable match. A number of Chinese women were interviewed. The women shared the same stories: a conflicted thought between stand up for their single life, versus agreed upon a marriage for the sake of family dignity.

 “Maybe I should give up on someone I love for someone who’s suitable.’

“Maybe I am being selfish, I want to say sorry to them (my parents).”

“I just wish my parents would understand my way of living.”

Obviously, Forsman & Bodenfors as the agency worked for this campaign, crafted a strong message about women empowerment as their strategic objectives. They tried to shift paradigm about women who portrayed society’s prejudice as leftover, are actually not. These subjects define what an inspiring woman does: having control upon their life.

And the story goes on. The women decided to take over their destiny, as SK-II took over the marriage market by marking their space with special installation. Hung in a huge spotlight, there were pictures of their daughters, beautiful and stunning after presumably taking good care of themselves by SK-II products. There was a slightly shocking pause, and then turned smoothly to a melting down moment when the parents gazed at their daughter picture along with personal message about being independent.

“My daughter is beautiful. Leftover women should be proud!” said a mother in the video, shed her tears.

For me, this campaign successfully delivered a strong and beautiful message about being a woman in modern world. An advertising that works by defying social norm must be anticipated to turn controversial. It involves a lot of risk, not only for the campaign objectives, but also for brand name and equity. However, the impact was a huge success. As a skin care brand, SK-II did not directly showcase their products in the advertising. Instead, they built an intense emotional connection between the talents, their aspiration, their struggles, and let the audiences assume that SK-II always be there for them to ease the burden. This advertising is easily creating mutual bond, everybody can relate to that.

After all, we yearn to share solidarity for each other. No more leftover, okay?



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