Until now, rap had been more subculture in China than mainstream. However, a new singing contest “The Rap of China” has recently swept the nation and bought the subculture musicians under to the public. Youngsters "diss" this and that to become part of the trend. Unlike the traditional reality TV shows that were produced by the provincial TV stations, it was planned and made the online video platform, iQiyi. It says there have been over 2 billion combined views in 10 episodes of the show.
Behind the billion views, “The Rap of China” can be seen as a textbook campaign that perfectly uses all the trending tactics and shred the light into a less recognised field.
Celebrity and KOLs
One of the most important factors that lead to the success is that heartthrob Kris Wu, an actor-singer and former boy band member, is a celebrity mentor for the rappers. He attracts fans across all ages and walks, He has been the first Chinese ambassador for Burberry which shows his brand value and popularity. Despite the other famous singers also join the show, he alone draws huge audiences for the show, at least in the first 5 episodes. His comment on “Do you have freestyle?” went viral and his mentorship was recognised by the audience. Many people become to adore him after watching his mentorship.
Other mentors, more or less famous singers or celebrities, help gather some attention for the show as well. Each mentor leads one team, the contestants of which compete and eliminate the members of other teams. The mentors were also invited to be the judges in some episodes, to increase the tensity and create the drama.
150 million RMB (276 million AED) is the cost of a title sponsorship of "the Rap of China".
As a standard in China, sponsor content and product placements are a huge part of the show, and nobody is surprised to see a supposed rebel rapping about the pleasure of sharing McDonald's snack boxes. The brand logo and messages, overpopulated the show from the beginning of moderator’s opening speech, to the table of contestants’ rooms and even in the rap lyrics. The viewers are suffocated by the volume of sponsor exposure. You will find it hard to skip the ads, because they are weaved into every pole of the show. That’s probably the biggest difference between Chinese reality show and X-factors.
TV stations have been dominating the reality TV show for over ten years, however, the fast-growing online video platforms, both PC and mobile, finally change the game and turn the trend around this time. IQiyi, the online video platform and the production team of this show, surpasses Youku and Tencent Video on the market share and watching length. Its VIP and paid members jumped in 2016 thanks to its high-quality self-produced content. Its mobile APP became the 2nd used APP in China in the total used time.
One thing distinguishes the online TV and traditional TV station is the revenue. Starting with only one small sponsor, IQiyi received requests from dozens of sponsors and earned over 2.5 billion RMB sponsorship fee. Other than the skyrocketing sponsorship fees and ads, production teams’ ambitious was far more than relying on ads income from the beginning. Membership package to skip the ads, collaterals and collaboration with other channels such as live broadcasting, gaming and e-commerce have been a part of the planning. There are more than 400 SKU around the show.
As TV stations also fit themselves into the digital era and put their reality show online after the live broadcasting,
The biggest user experience difference between traditional TV station and online video is Danmu. Danmu, “bullet screen” in English or “danmaku” in Japanese, is the live commentary on the video. It originates from audience commenting on the Japanese animations. Bilibili, a video sharing website themed around anime, manga, and game fandom where users can submit, view and add commentary, expends it to the mass public. Reading others’ comments while watching the show feels like being part of a Facebook Live that audience engages not only with the video content but also other audience.
It has been over ten years since the success of “Super girl” created the reality show wave. The passion and the talents on the singing reality show decline over the years. “The Rap of China” chose a different angle with the help of experiences in marketing and sponsorship. Beside the big investment on the program production, the “Keep Real” attitude is what those underground trappers try to advocate and what audience is attracted for.