AWI marketing campaign sets the Merino Sisters loose in China

Sheep Central, October 23, 2020


AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation’s only current global marketing campaign has launched the Merino Sisters brand into the world’s most lucrative fashion market China.

With demand for Australian wool in China underpinning greasy wool prices, AWI’s The Woolmark Company has teamed up with advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai to launch the Merino Sisters campaign via Chinese ecommerce giant Tmall.

The campaign is a debut for the Merino Sisters, Woolmark’s first branded intellectual property, in the company’s first-ever brand campaign in China, pitching Merino wool as the most coveted winter fibre in 2020.

The Merino Sisters as The Woolmark Company’s first brand IP are the centrepiece of AWI’s only global marketing campaign.

In three humorously curt interviews with Merino Sisters characters, consumers learn about the superiority of Merino sheep genes and the unparalleled benefits of “Merino: the Treasure Wool”, AWI said.

“For beef, there’s Kobe beef.

“For roses, there are Damask roses,” W+K Shanghai creative director Tree Chan said.

“For sparkling wine, there’s champagne.

“We want to make Merino wool the most prestigious and respected family of wool for people in China, that’s our ambition,” he said.

The campaign content went live on China’s No.1 e-commerce site Tmall on 22 September, the preferred destination for renowned brands locally and globally. AWI said the campaign has generated over 230M impressions and 9.9M video views with the teaser post by notable celebrity Loura Lou achieving 2 million views in less than 24hours on Weibo. The campaign will run until 22 November.

The Merino Sisters also appeared in Tmall’s live-streaming sales rooms for surprise visits and endorsements generating over 750,000 engagements.

AWI said Chinese consumers are also increasingly sophisticated and constantly demanding a quality upgrade thanks to the rise of e-commerce and the proliferation of brand choices.

AWI chief executive officer Stuart McCullough said the company predicted China’s economy would be first to bounce back from the disruption caused by COVID-19.

“They are Australian wool’s biggest and most important customer.

“The time is right to promote our wool to a market that is both willing and able to buy wool in large amounts,” he said.

“Sadly, that is not the case in other key Northern Hemisphere markets.

“AWI is monitoring economic conditions in Europe and North America and will not be marketing in those markets until there is sustained evidence of economic improvement.”

AWI said the China campaign is about communicating Australian wool’s natural benefits to a digitally-savvy, highly sophisticated Chinese audience.

“Our marketing strategy is built around a content-commerce model which allows us to focus on driving purchasing intent at a time when this season’s sell-through has never been more critically important for the future of the industry,” Mr McCullough said.

The campaign’s objective is to build awareness of Merino wool’s unique benefits whilst driving purchase intent for activewear stock-on-hand via a content and commerce strategy with TMall and local Chinese brand partners.

AWI would not comment on the commercial details of the details, but a spokesman said brand contribution to the campaign is considerable and far in excess of AWI’s planned spend.

“It includes TMall supporting the campaign through additional in-kind digital development of a Wool-Pavilion store, hosting of Live-streaming shopping activities and amplification across social platforms.”

The success of the campaign will be measured through TMall and brand partner sales plus analysis of media and social engagement, the spokesman said.

The latest AWI-Woolmark campaign promotes Merino wool as a treasure fibre.

What AWI levy payers’ money will be used for

The campaign will involve a content strategy with leading creative agency Wieden Kennedy Shanghai including a one-minute hero film and 3 x 15 second cuts promoting the softness, breathability and easy care benefits of Merino.

The partnership with TMall involves hosting ‘Wool Week’ 27th – 29th September, which included both on and off-platform media-plan to drive purchase intent for Merino wool product, by driving engaged audiences to a dedicated ‘Wool Pavilion’ featuring 100 local and international brands.

There will be a fashion shoot with Chinese model and actress Zhong Chuxi, who has 6.8 million Weibo followers.

A KOL (Key Opinion Leader / Influencer) strategy will have support from six notable Chinese influencers to promote Merino product to their communities. KOLS in the campaign include voice-over talent Loura Lou (18 million Weibo followers) and TMall Live-stream host Cherie (16 million Live-stream followers)

There will also be a series of livestreamed shopping segments on TMall and Weibo to promote Merino wool products. The first livestream generated 720,000 engagements.

A paid social campaign across Weibo, WeChat and Douyin has generated 10 million video views “and counting”, AWI said.

The campaign will also involve direct partnerships with Tmall’s three local brand partners for the upcoming Double 11 Shopping festival, China’s biggest shopping festival.


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  1. James Jackson, July 4, 2021

    Could you please stop spending my money on promotion? The return on investment on this is is truly horrible compared with research. There is no market failure in marketing ………there is for basic research.
    I desperately need more research into ‘on-farm’ challenges. Those who think this is a piece of genius for statutory funds I would suggest you could invest in a brand yourself.

    • Jim Gordon, July 4, 2021

      James Jackson, where have you been? Bloody brilliant. This is exactly why I am trying to get a place on the AWI board this November. We need research that benefits all levy payers,and we need a grower that is at the coalface that knows what to research. We don’t need another suit or economics degree on the board.
      Wool will sell itself if the quality is right, ie fit for purpose.

  2. Donald Cameron, October 26, 2020

    What an incredibly stupid time to raise the profile of any Australian product in the Chinese market. Our relationship with China is at an all-time low and Australia is deeply unpopular.
    The Chinese rulers are angry and in a vindictive and retaliatory mood, actively targeting our exports. It continues Australian Wool Innovation’s pattern of blundering, inept leadership.
    If China dumps Aussie wool as they dumped Aussie barley, AWI will have completed the job of destroying the value of wool.

  3. Jim Gordon, October 26, 2020

    Can anyone find out what Australian Wool Innovation’s planned spend will be on the Merino Sisters promotion? I find it frustrating that AWI won’t comment on the commercial details. Why do we continually have this secret men’s business? Why can’t we have full disclosure from this mob? What am I missing?

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