Chinese social media has been abuzz with talk of Shanghai Disneyland’s new character LinaBell – the newest member from Duffy family. Within four weeks of making her debut at the resort #LinaBell had reached 300 million views.
The pink, fluffy-tailed fox with dark blue eyes provides some valuable lessons for brands to build buzz and anticipation through cute mascots:
LinaBell is part of one of the most popular groups at Shanghai Disneyland, the Duffy family. Over time, Disney has built popularity of the Duffy family and created anticipation by adding new members to the family every year. The Weibo views for the seven Duffy characters averages 66.2 million, so LinaBell’s 300 million views demostrates they are getting better with each launch.
Whereas previous Duffy family characters have mostly debuted in Tokyo Disneyland, Linabell’s Shanghai Disney debut strokes Chinese consumers’ pride and fuels the urgency to see them while they are exclusive in China. This holds particular appeal to local tourists, who are more interested in Linabell than other Disney characters which can be seen in other places. Chinese tourists think Linabell is from Shanghai and feel closer as a result.
The old China adage “Be famous as soon as possible” applies for LinaBell. Shanghai Disneyland timed LinaBell’s debut just before National Day Holiday. The Golden Week, holiday saw the number of visitors at Shanghai Disneyland reaching their peak which drove a massive number of mentions on social media.
LinaBell’s confident, curious and lovely personality resonates with Chinese consumers, seeing both tourists find joy when meeting her or watching her videos on social media. Shanghai Disneyland’s ChuanSha metro station has seen locals give LinaBell a nick name “ChuanSha Daji”. Daji is a fox demon from Chinese old myth “The Legend of Deification”, and Daji is famous for confusing people’s minds. The topic of “ChuanSha Daji” has 230 million views on Weibo, with people loving the name noting that they are confused by LinaBell’s cuteness. Nick names are an important way to build followings in China.
The Duffy family’s popularity in East Asia is largely attributable to their cuteness, playing to the “Meng (萌) Culture,” effectively the love for all things cute. Cuteness is more than just a joy to look at, but is believed to deliver a sense of healing.
We can learn for a lot of the most successful brands in China who have got that way with the help of a cute mascot, delivered effectively with many of the strategies Disney used with LinaBell and the Duffy family.