Zippo Promo, Case study LIGHT UP THE NIGHT by Slam, ZMC

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Industry Alcoholic drinks & Tobacco, Tobacco and Smoking Accessories
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market China
Agency Slam
Agency ZMC
Released September 2012

Credits & Description

Category: Best Use of Live Events, Stunts and or Celebrity Endorsement
Advertiser: ZIPPO
Product/Service: BRAND IMAGE
Director, Global Marketing: David Warfel (Zippo Manufacturing Company (ZMC))
Global Managing Director: Molly Hooper-Aldridge (SLAM)
Account Director: Chen Yi Lim (SLAM)
Consultant: Selene Yang (SLAM)
Consultant: Santana Wulsin (SLAM)
Senior Associate: Sam Yu (SLAM)
Account Coordinator: Gao Xu (SLAM)
Account Director: Makoto Hamada (SLAM)
Account Director: Nicki Oldham (SLAM)
Account Director: Sophie Toskas (SLAM)
Senior Account Manager: Natalie Tesoriero (SLAM)
Account Manager: David Slade (SLAM)
Business Development Manager, Asia Pacific: Tim Gingrich (Weber Shandwick)
Marketing Services Executive, Asia Pacific: Amanda Mohar (Weber Shandwick)
Marketing Services Assistant, Asia Pacific: Sarah Hou (Weber Shandwick)
Media placement: Concert #1 Press Release & Teasers - Various including,,,, - May 18, 2010
Media placement: Concert #1 Videos - - May 28, 2010
Media placement: Concert #1 Reviews & Promotional Articles - Distributed across China's top 20 web portals as well as Time Out Beijing, Moder - June 2, 2010
Media placement: Concert #2 Press Release & Teasers - Various including,,,,, Sohu - June 9, 2010
Media placement: Concert #3 Press Release & Teasers - Various including For Him Magazine, Chinese Versions Of GQ & Esquire, - June 22, 2010
Media placement: Concert #2 Videos -, - June 27, 2010
Media placement: Concert #2 Reviews & Promotional Articles - Various including Over 800 Key Portals For Target Audiences In First, Second, An - June 29, 2010
Media placement: Concert #3 Videos -, - July 31, 2010
Media placement: Concert #3 Reviews & Promotional Articles - Various including Major Online KOLs And Fashion Bloggers On, - July 31, 2010
Media placement: Concert #4 Press Release & Teasers - Various including Major Online KOLs And Fashion Bloggers On, - Aug 16, 2010

Summary of the Campaign
Zippo lighters have made cameos in Apocalypse Now, Die Hard and Wall-E. They’ve spared the lives of MacGyver and Indiana Jones and helped save Private Ryan. Zippo is more than a product or a brand; it’s a legend. As such, the company has never really been in the business of selling lighters. Zippo found global success not solely because of its product’s function (though after 75 years of lifetime guarantees, it’s undoubtedly functional), but because of what it stood for.

In China, the company’s second largest market, Zippo had failed to reach icon-status. Few people knew what the brand represented, and even fewer were aware of the company’s range of products beyond lighters. This lack of visibility was what "Zippo Hot List Nights" summer concert series sought to overcome. Through an authentic, culturally relevant platform, this major Zippo-branded experience created a wave of advocates and influential trend leaders who not only believed in Zippo products, but who subscribed to the brand identity. By the end of the six-month campaign, sales of men’s accessories had increased 229% YOY, and media attention had spread nation-wide, generating over 2,080 pieces of coverage, with blog views alone exceeding 300,000.

The Situation
Working through retailers rather than its own stores, Zippo had little visibility or direct communication to customers. This made spreading brand message and promoting an extended product line exceptionally difficult.

Icons ubiquitous in other markets are still new to China, and consequently, messages fail to carry the same resonance. What sold Zippo to the world – this famous legend status – didn’t translate. The audience didn’t even know this reputation existed. Meeting this challenge, the team sought to create an icon. To change perception and increase visibility, solidifying Zippo as a brand that went beyond lighters and defined a lifestyle.

The Goal

The objective was to increase product sales through stronger brand appeal.

Targeting young adult males reflected Zippo’s "masculine rebel" global positioning and filled a gap in China; most brands catered to young women or businessmen. Polling revealed that 90% knew of the "cool lighters," but nothing more about the brand.

This audience purchases for style over necessity and seeks out anything new, anything cool that allows for self-expression. After 25 years of imported pop culture, foreign trends have taken local root in China and what resonates most with this trend-savvy audience are foreign trends that have adopted local attributes.

The Strategy

Zippo sought an authentic, culturally relevant stage to engage the audience. Knowing that this segment responded most strongly to "anti-brands" – effortlessly cool without cliché luxury labels – the firm identified a platform that captured the brand’s attitude and the audience’s definition of cool: live rock music.

The result was Zippo Hot List Nights, a summer concert series in Beijing that reflected local rock culture:
- Posters designed by Beijing tattoo artists.
- An “underground” venue in an abandoned pre-war military academy.
- Well-known and up-and-coming Chinese bands, luring audiences with the opportunity to “discover” new bands.
- A bass guitarist with a face covered in piercings as MC.

In addition, the team would utilize concerts as a springboard to ignite internet word of mouth. Because online trend-setters are found almost entirely on China-specific platforms, interacting with the right people in the right places would be critical for maximum reach.

The Zippo Hot List Nights series hosted monthly concerts from May to October 2010, featuring 24 Chinese bands. The space was fully-branded, with the stage flanked by flames, "secret recipe" Zi-52 beverages in branded glasses, and prominent logos behind performers. Promoters interacted with the audience and showcased Zippo lifestyle products, which were also given as prizes to audience members. Media and product distributors received VIP back-stage passes, socialized with the bands, and participated in on-stage promotions.

Online activities utilized Chinese social media platforms and microblogging site Sina, and engaged influential bloggers and major style outlets like GQ China.

The night of the fifth concert, two other major performances took place in Beijing. To save the event, brand reps blasted social media sites and promoted the Zippo concert outside competing venues. As word spread, audiences left other concerts to see Zippo’s impressive line-up, and attendance was the highest of the season.

Documented Results
The campaign successfully launched a movement of brand advocates who identified with the Zippo lifestyle and its products. Sales of men’s accessories increased 229% YOY, and dealers reported hundreds of inquiries about lifestyle products displayed at the concerts.

The campaign also garnered over 2,080 pieces of media coverage for Zippo, more than double initial estimates, with an equivalent advertising value of US$4.5M.

Online, high rates of traffic and conversation indicated that the campaign had passed a tipping point, igniting a wave of interest that spread among citizens and exponentially increased brand visibility. Over 300,000 news stories were reposted 300 times. Forum postings resulted in 21,000 comments and 50,400 views. Blog articles received over 300,000 views and concert videos received 25,000, and Sina messages were forwarded 2,500 times as citizens posted over 2,900 of their own messages. Key messages throughout included "Zippo hot lifestyle," "rock music," and "hot bands."