The Hoffman Agency Helps China’s MEIZU Crack the Crowded U.S. Smartphone Market

Synopsis

When the Hoffman Agency was first approached by Chinese smartphone manufacturer, MEIZU, to launch the brand in the U.S. market at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, there were two major obstacles:

  1. Educating MEIZU’s marketing team about the tremendous differences between the China and U.S. market, particularly in dealing with North American journalists, bloggers and social audiences.
  2. Helping MEIZU stand out at CES amidst the incredible noise level generated by big brands. Not to mention the  fact that MEIZU did not have a major news announcement or a product available in the U.S. market yet.

The Hoffman team came up with a creative campaign to generate a strong media footprint and a meaningful beachhead in the U.S. market—one that gave MEIZU something to build upon long-term.

Phase I: Leave Them Wanting More

Sometimes, less is more. Rather than pretend that MEIZU had some big news announcement, the team approached the pre-show news release as more of a teaser announcement. The whole thing came to a grand total of 47 words.

Chinese Mobile Phone Maker Sees Untapped Market in U.S.
MEIZU TO MAKE U.S. DEBUT AT CES 2014

Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China – December 18, 2013 – As the first step in a long-term strategy to pursue the U.S. market, MEIZU will preview its line of smartphones at CES 2014 Booth LVH#51001.

Combining the elegance and functionality of today’s smartphones with consumer-friendly pricing, MEIZU believes there’s room in the U.S. market for another player.

The “leave a little to mystery” approach worked to build momentum into the show. The news release was featured in 398 different outlets and generated 19 pieces of original coverage with a total audience reach of over 147,866,928.

Phase II: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Next, the team began preparations for the CES show, making sure the right assets were in place for success.

  • Craft the perfect pre-pitch – The Hoffman team leveraged America’s infatuation with Chinese companies expanding globally as the door-opening narrative. “No matter how you look at it, Apple and Samsung dominate the U.S. smartphone market, with little to threaten their leadership for the foreseeable future. Yet, a smartphone vendor that dominates the world’s largest market promises to disrupt their dual dominance by delivering a simple, elegant device that matches everything and more that Apple and Samsung offer – at half the price.” And the storytelling technique paid off since the team secured a total of 29 interviews leading up to the event, as well as several more spontaneous, drop-by interviews at the event itself.
  • Build momentum with a contest – To generate buzz, the team held an international contest on MEIZU’s Facebook and Twitter platforms, giving away 18 MEIZU smartphones the week leading up to and during CES. The team encouraged contestants to submit original photos that reflect MEIZU’s mantra to dream big and include the hashtag #MEIZUDreamsBig, which resulted in a spike in MEIZU’s Facebook and Twitter following and increased engagement.
  • Maintain momentum with a second news release – Again, Hoffman’s approach accentuated the simplicity of the storytelling, so it could be easily understood by all and stretch the syndication. In other words, the team stayed away from the multitude of adjectives and adverbs that typically plague announcements from foreign companies coming to the U.S.

Phase III: Showtime

The Hoffman team arrived at the Las Vegas Convention Center, prepared to execute on the following:

  • Build excitement through social media – Hoffman manned the fort on the social media side, live-tweeting the event and continuing to manage the international giveaway on Facebook. The following photo is an example of how the team used social channels to humanize the MEIZU story.
    face-book
  • MEIZU’s “right-hand man” – To maximize the press interviews secured, the team made sure to be there for the client every step of the way. The language barrier could have been an issue, but one of Hoffman’s team members, fluent in both Mandarin and English, stepped in to crystallize communications whenever necessary.

Results

The campaign secured 56 pieces of original coverage, with a total audience reach of 24,625,663. Original coverage included pieces from USA Today, Barron’s, Fortune, Associated Press, The Next Web, ZDNet, SlashGear and InformationWeek, among others. Fox News also broadcasted a live segment of the MEIZU MX3 nationally on January 8, 2014.

Chinese smartphone coverage on Barron's - Meizu
In addition, the two news releases were featured in more than 500 media outlets, reaching a total audience of 293,602,363.

With a grand total of 318,228,026 impressions, the campaign successfully delivered on MEIZU’s first step in building its brand in the U.S. market.

Chinese smartphone coverage on USA Today - Meizu