marketing in china, marketing collaborations, best brand collaborations 2022

5 Food Collabs From China That Caught the World’s Attention

From Harry Potter-themed mooncakes to sci-fi Oreos, major food brands had some incredible marketing campaigns in China last year

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6:30 AM HKT, Fri February 17, 2023 2 mins read

Though 2022 saw a few terrible marketing flops, from a provocative (read: sleazy) coconut milk advertisement to a cringey KFC rap, several brand collaborations were exemplary forms of advertising, especially the ones between international and domestic brands.

Below are five of the best brand collaborations of 2022 that RADII covered:

1. Pizza Hut x Genshin Impact

We’ve ranked this campaign first for obvious reasons: It was so popular that the cops had to get involved (no, seriously).

Last September, miHoYo, the company behind the hit video game Genshin Impact, teamed up with Pizza Hut to release limited-edition meals with both real-life and in-game perks, like branded merchandise and complimentary Mora, a form of currency used in the world of Genshin Impact. Some Pizza Hut staff even embraced cosplay inspired by the game.

marketing in china, marketing collaborations, best brand collaborations 2022

Customers queuing up outside a Pizza Hut outlet on the first day of the campaign’s launch. Image via @nise_yoshimi/Twitter

Certain branches of the fast food restaurant in Shanghai and Nanjing were so crowded that police had to shut them down, citing Covid-19 concerns.

What made the campaign so successful was Pizza Hut capitalizing on an existing and extremely dedicated fanbase.

2. Harry Potter x Holiland Bakery

For a brief stint, fans of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter could cop a slice of magic via Holiland Bakery’s Mid-Autumn Festival campaign.

Released on July 31 to coincide with Harry Potter’s birthday, the mooncakes were inspired by objects and characters from the books, like the Golden Snitch, Hogwarts school badges, Chocolate Frogs, and Hedwig, Harry’s beloved pet owl.

The collab took off thanks to two things: Catering to the right audience and good timing. An estimated 200 million copies of the Harry Potter books have sold in China, and what better time to release exciting new products than during one of the most significant festive periods in the country?

3. KFC x Zhou Hei Ya

In October 2022, KFC China and Zhou Hei Ya, an iconic purveyor of duck products, reintroduced their braised duck sandwiches and wraps for the first time since 2021.

The return of the specialty sandwich seems to indicate that people in China couldn’t get enough of the seemingly odd but truly satisfying combination of KFC chicken and Zhou Hei Ya’s signature duck slathered in a secret sauce.

American fast-food chain KFC has done incredibly well in China thanks to its creative localization efforts over the years. The chain restaurant often offers regional food items, like Wuhan’s hot and dry noodles (reganmian) and Changzhou’s world-famous soup dumplings known as xiaolongbao.

4. Oreo x The Three-Body Problem

Deriving inspiration from science fiction author Liu Cixin’s novel The Three-Body Problem, American cookie brand Oreo released an exclusive set of Oreos featuring different shapes and symbols from the book. The collab also included a telescope-like gadget that served as a projector (of sorts) when an Oreo was placed in one of its slots.

While some might deem the collaboration gimmicky, it still did well, especially since the products dropped when the internet was buzzing about various TV adaptations of The Three-Body Problem.

5. Holiland Bakery x Wang Lao Ji

As you can tell by now, Holiland has a propensity for tasty collaborations, including this one with Wang Lao Ji, a popular Chinese herbal tea company.

In anticipation of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the pastry company rolled out a collection of desserts that included an ‘Instagrammable’ herbal tea-flavored cake resembling Wang Lao Ji’s signature beverage can. Another treat was modeled after the Chinese character ji (吉), which features in Wang Lao Ji’s name and means ‘good fortune’ — an auspicious reference heading into a new year.

Cake-in-a-can and a cheeky play on words? What’s not to love about this campaign by two highly successful Chinese brands?

Read more about advertising and marketing campaigns in China here.

Cover image via the author

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