Winner: Weber Shandwick – Crazy for Cranberries, The Taste of Thanksgiving in China

Ocean Spray is a leading producer of cranberry-based food and beverages and the best-selling brand of its kind in North America. In China, however, the brand’s dried cranberry sales have been slow. Given enormous competition in the snacking category, Cranberries are far from being a diet staple.

Ocean Spray’s long term goal in China is to be one of the most visible and popular brands of dried fruit. Weber Shandwick was tasked to increase awareness and drive ecommerce sales of the product in the process. Crucially, the campaign aimed to bring to the forefront Ocean Spray’s heritage in cranberry production, highlighting two core brand assets: 1) its colourful annual harvest of cranberries by generations of grower families, and 2) the fruit’s essential place as part of the traditional American thanksgiving dinner menu. 

Ocean Spray challenged the agency to deliver a campaign that would reach at least 500,000 people directly and drive ecommerce sales of its products by an ambitious 50%.

Target/audience analysis:

Weber Shandwick targeted women aged between 23 to 50 earning a relatively high monthly income of approx. US$2,900. Globally aware thanks to a love of travel, this audience is fascinated by culture and lifestyle trends, and are making more informed decisions on food they consume and enjoy. Consumer research by Ocean Spray revealed that urban women aged from 23 to 35 are more likely to buy and enjoy snacks. To this audience, ecommerce is a normal part of life and even a source of daily entertainment. Despite their desires being merely a mobile tap away, this highly educated, deeply sophisticated group is not persuaded by one-dimensional marketing gimmicks. Engaging this audience required an authentic, credible and even humble approach.


Over the past decade, the culture of the American Thanksgiving Holiday has recently gained visibility in China, especially among urban audiences who are exposed to the annual tradition via social media. Inspired by this tradition, some companies have even held “giving thanks” parties. Black Friday – the much awaited annual sales festival that takes place the day after Thanksgiving in North America – has been adopted as a popular sales event in China, similar to Singles Day. The agency saw an opportunity for Ocean Spray to take advantage of this cultural phenomenon gaining popularity.

The strategy was to build the audience’s fascination for the cranberry by feeding their wanderlust and curiosity of Thanksgiving. The idea was to have authentic stories about cranberries told to audiences by storytellers they trust, in their own unique styles and personal platforms. They would be delivered in ways that not only immersed viewers in the brand’s heritage but also allowed them to immediately purchase within a few swipes and taps. It was an experimental move for Ocean Spray. For the first time, their approach wasn’t simply advertising or using pre-developed brand content to communicate with the public. This time, it was collaborating with independent content creators in an effort to convert their many followers into buying customers.


The agency used its influencer engagement methodology “[the agency name] KLOUD Network” in selecting influencers to represent the campaign. All three had a large following among our intended target audience and are respected for their expertise. Co-creating content with these influencers would not only allow Ocean Spray to reach the audience directly, but also tell the story of cranberries in a way that was insightful and relevant.

In a live stream that was broadcast across six live streaming channels (Pepper livestream, Tencent livestream, Babytree livestream, Yi livestream, Netease livestream, Tmall livestream, and Weibo), Zhou Zhou guided viewers through the cranberry harvest, speaking with a cranberry grower whose family has been growing the crop for generations. Against the backdrop of a gorgeous autumn day, Zhou Zhou and Little Rice were joined by a local chef who helped demonstrate how cranberries’ sweet and sour can be integrated with Chinese dishes. The partnership with Tmall encouraged consumers to “buy now” as they watched the live stream video.

With Eat Solo, the agency produced a video about the American tradition of Thanksgiving. Titled “Back to the Cranberry bog: Thanksgiving Dinner”, the film depicts a Chinese girl being invited to her friend’s family bog to experience the cranberry harvest and take part in preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. She cooks a Chinese-style sweet and sour pork dish using Ocean Spray cranberries. Broadcast on all of Eat Solo’s social media platforms (Weibo, WeChat and Youku) right before and over the Black Friday weekend, viewers were offered special deals on the ecommerce site Taobao, allowing them to instantly purchase the products as they watched the film.

The story about the cranberry harvest emphasized the health qualities of the fruit while the story of the American Thanksgiving tradition highlights how the sweet taste of cranberries evoke warmth, togetherness and gratitude for life’s blessings. These stories appealed to the audiences’ desire to eat healthily in the company of their family and friends, while feeding their curiosity of western cultures and foreign places.

The objective was to reach at least 500,000 people online and boost ecommerce sales of Ocean Spray Craisins® by 50%. The campaign achieved this and much more. The live stream was viewed by an astonishing 2.06 million people, and Eat Solo’s short video was viewed 448,000 times. Sales data on Tmall showed a 57% increase in “add to cart” for Ocean Spray Craisins® during the live stream period.

In total, the campaign generated 15 million Weibo impressions and 10,700 engagements as the Chinese market went crazy for cranberries. Subsequent consumer research by Ocean Spray in 2017 found that awareness of cranberries increased from 47% to 60% in first tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.


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