What does Christmas mean to the Chinese? Well – obviously Santa Claus, like to all of us.
If you ask Finns about the origins of Santa Claus, the answer is Finland. However, to many people around the world, including 1.4 billion Chinese, it could be anywhere close to the North Pole. As the “Official Hometown of Santa Claus”, Rovaniemi wanted to enhance its brand in China as a popular tourist destination and continue the work that had been started on Chinese Social media with their established Santa Claus account. Chinese are the most growing group of visitors in Rovaniemi, and the city wanted to involve Chinese consumers in the celebration of Christmas with the one and only Santa Claus of Rovaniemi.
Many commercial businesses would like to leverage the iconic Santa Claus character during their Christmas promotion. The Chinese media is filled with noise and advertising during the Christmas season, so it is extremely hard to stand out.
However, a small city in the middle of Northern Finland called Rovaniemi had done something many have tried. Santa Claus had become sort of an emerging thing over the past years in Chinese social media, thanks to the account established by Visit Rovaniemi and Sina Weibo.
The idea was to break the social media with Santa Claus with an effort dedicated to a Christmas campaign utilizing the official Santa’s reputation, the power of story-telling and partnering with chosen Chinese companies. It was time to take spreading the goodwill and Christmas spirit to a whole next level.
In collaboration with chosen partners, hosting online campaigns to promote the awareness of the account and Rovaniemi has proven extremely cost-effective.
The total investment for Visit Rovaniemi:
In return, using the verified @SantaClausOfficial Weibo account, we conducted several campaign activities during the 2018 Visit Rovaniemi Christmas campaign:
2. Publishing of Hero video of Santa Claus sending greetings to the Chinese people. Results: 6.48 million post impressions, 6973 reposts, 2397 comments, 8990 likes.
3. In collaboration with Weibo, the campaign included hosting a make-a-wish to Santa campaign by sharing the stories with the hashtag #checkinginxmas, gathering a large amount of participating posts.The best wishes would get a postcard autographed by Santa Claus himself, sent from the Santa Claus Main Post Office. Results: the hashtag page #checkinginxmas reached almost 200 million views, making it the most successful digital campaign to date for Visit Rovaniemi.
After the campaign, January 2019, Santa Claus had organically reached more than 10 million users in the last 30 days alone, earning him a golden verification symbol. No Finnish account – or a destination marketing organization globally has ever made this until today. Santa Claus of Rovaniemi become a Chinese Social Media phenomena. During the Christmas season 2018, the followers of the account increased from 70,000 to over 240,000 (+345%).
Our campaign activities have been featured in CGTN (China Global Television Network) news online, and on CCTV (China Central Television Channel 4) program CITY TO CITY broadcasted both in China and internationally, reaching a whopping 1.64 billion audience. Other media such as Xinhua News Agency and Paper.cn also reported on Santa Claus & Rovaniemi.
The fans are interacting with the account on a daily basis even after the Christmas Season has passed, making wishes to Santa and expressing their interest to visit Santa one day, meeting our primary goal of making the “Official Hometown of Santa Claus” more widely known in China. With strong actions in the social media landscape, we have further cemented the idea Santa Claus’ home belonging to Rovaniemi and Finland. Today, we can see Chinese visitors referring to the official Santa Claus Weibo account when posting about their experiences in Rovaniemi.