Successful Asia KOL Marketing Campaigns in 2021
31 Jan , 2022

Asia KOL Marketing Campaigns 2021

KOL marketing isn’t new in Asia. With over 2.14 billion active social media users in the Asia-Pacific region, Asia KOL marketing appears to be an invest-worthy marketing strategy in Asia. In recent years, the Asia KOL market has witnessed rapid growth, with 32.8% annual growth since 2019. Specifically, the Southeast Asia KOL market is predicted to quadruple in size to $2.6 billion by 2024, signifying its explosive potential to consistently deliver market success. Without a question, the benefits of KOL marketing are well-versed to the majority of marketers. Yet, it’s also crucial to leverage the previous successful cases and flourish your future Asia KOL marketing campaigns.

In the article, we’ll bring you to explore the successful Asia KOL marketing campaigns in 2021, heightening your future Asia KOL marketing efforts.

  1. What is an Asia KOL Marketing Campaign?

  2. 6 Successful Asia KOL Marketing Campaigns in 2021

  3. Tips to Create a Successful Asia KOL Marketing Campaign

1. What is an Asia KOL Marketing Campaign?

Let’s keep things simple. The concept of an Asia KOL marketing campaign is when brands employ individuals who have larger than average social media followers to promote their products or services in the Asia market. It’s a cost-effective means for brands to reach and target their designated Asian audience. People trust people, not marketers that overtly promote their brands. Together with the credible and authentic traits that KOLs deliver, they serve as positive word-of-mouth that confers value on brands and shapes consumer perceptions. Accordingly, building brand reputation and increasing brand awareness in the target Asian countries.

2. 6 Successful Asia KOL Marketing Campaigns in 2021

2.1. McDonald’s: introduced Asia KOL titled meal

Taking the Asian market by storm, McDonald’s launched the BTS Meal campaign with Korean pop superstars BTS in May and June 2021. The BTS Meal featured chicken McNuggets, fries, Coke, and Sweet Chili and Cajun dipping sauces, all wrapped in BTS-themed purple packaging. The campaign ran across 11 Asia countries, including the Philippines, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and others.

Taking advantage of the 18 million+ BTS army, BTS served as an ideal KOL for McDonald’s to reach Asian Millennials and Gen Z, who are more likely to visit fast-food restaurants. Keeping in mind to capture BTS fans’ attention on social media, McDonald’s managed to speak in their language. The campaign was inspired by the social media content styles of the K-pop community, such as teasers and concert tour-themed postings.

For instance, a fries-framed BTS logo and album-release-like collaboration announcement. On social media, McDonald’s tailored content specifically to engage K-pop enthusiasts throughout the entire release. To further raise its online visibility, the campaign used the hashtags #BTSMeal and #BTSxMcDonalds on Instagram and Twitter to encourage people to share their BTS Meals on social media with the hashtags, making the brand go viral across various platforms.

McDonald’s X BTS collaboration announcement on InstagramMcDonald’s X BTS collaboration announcement on Instagram (BTS logo)

McDonald’s X BTS collaboration announcement on Twitter
McDonald’s X BTS collaboration announcement on Twitter (similar to album release promotion format)

Within a month, the Chicken McNuggets became Korea’s top-selling item, with sales increasing by 250%. Together, compared to the same period last year, McDonald’s had a whopping 81% rise in Google search volume. Besides, McDonald’s initial announcement tweet garnered 600,000+likes and 250,000+ retweets, indicating increased brand awareness.

2.2. Olay: featured Asia KOLs short videos

60% of Chinese women are apprehensive and lack confidence in their faces. Having heard concerns from those anxious women, Olay launched the ‘Fearless of Judgement’ campaign in July 2021, aiming to improve its brand image and recognition.

Under the motto “Fearless of judgment, I’m just beautiful’, the campaign went against the “mainstream beauty” standard by creating a short video showcasing La Mu Yang Zi, a well-known Chinese actress with a chubby physique and plain appearance. Yang Zi's looks with and without makeup were contrasted in the video, narrated by herself from pondering others’ judgments on her appearance to embracing her true self. The video was released on numerous popular China social media platforms, including Douyin, Weibo, and WeChat.

Olay KOL collaborationOlay collaborated with La Mu Yang Zi to create a short video

Coupled with the Weibo talk show hosted by Yang Li, a Chinese stand-up comedian who speaks up about women’s issues, her life experience of facial anxiety had struck a chord with Chinese audiences, with many applauding the “diversified beauty” standards.

Olay’s brand message “Pursuit of Fearless” became widespread on social media, drawing attention to Olay and its “heartfelt” brand concept. The online talk show had over 7 million live audiences and had received over 450 million views on Weibo. On Weibo, the campaign’s hashtag drew over 340 million views, while the short video had been viewed over 33 million times. Olay had acquired tremendous brand recognition and successfully resonated with Chinese female customers by cooperating with the proper KOLs in shedding light on social concerns, hence raising brand image.

2.3. Grin Natural: Asia KOL live streaming

It’s not new to hear that live streaming ecommerce is growing at rage in Asian countries, especially in China. In 2020, the live streaming ecommerce market in China has reached over 1,238 billion yuan, and it is prospected to maintain rapid growth in the future. Knowing the power of live streaming ecommerce, an Auckland-based company, Grin Natural, collaborated with China’s “Lipstick King”, Austin Li, to promote their brand toothpaste.

Hoping to grab the most attention from Chinese consumers in just merely few minutes or hours, Grin Natural recognized the importance of partnering with a KOL with great influence. Austin Li, without a doubt, was the best option. Their collaboration went with Austin’s Taobao live on the pre-Single Day event. On Austin's live, 115,000 toothpastes were sold in just 115 seconds. The sales quantities were equivalent to two years’ worth in the New Zealand market, demonstrating the potential of KOL live streaming in boosting sales. The entire livestream drew 250 million views, selling 2.4 billion worth of products in 12 hours, also signifying its expanding brand awareness in China.

Grin Natural toothpaste KOL collaboration
Austin Li selling Grin Natural toothpaste on its Taobao live.

2.4. Vivo: engaged Asia micro-KOLs

Vivo, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, is a household name in the country. In head to extend its reach and popularity across South Asian countries, Vivo worked with micro-influencers in January 2021 to promote its newly announced flagship X50 smartphone in the Singapore market, and attract the youthful Singaporean audience.

The X50 smartphone was aimed primarily at adventurous and trendsetting Singaporean young adults who are also interested in music and photography and integrate smartphones into their daily lives. To resonate with the audience, Vivo investigated KOL’s demographics and interests, sought KOLs who have comparable content posting habits, and share similar values with the brand. KOL postings were guaranteed in just one or two lines of the caption, coupled with Vivo's brand tag and call-to-action, to stand out and be easily digestible by the audience. With Instagram as the key channel, 60 unique postings were developed throughout the campaign’s three phases, with every influencer sharing unique content.

Singaporean KOL’s post for Vivo X50Singaporean KOL’s post for Vivo X50

Overall, the total reach for Instagram influencers had topped 350,000. The campaign’s targeted engagement was exceeded by more than 250%. It also achieved over 27,500 likes, 1,500 comments, and 23,000 story views. The campaign had generated substantial awareness and buzz among the Singaporean audience towards the X50 smartphone.

2.5. BMW: TikTok KOL marketing

The leading automobile brand, BMW, aimed to promote its plug-in BMW eDrive in South Korea. To launch its “e-ideal Vibe” campaign on TikTok, the brand collaborated with Henry, a top-tier K-pop KOL. The campaign’s centerpiece was Henry producing a remix of the hit song “Thunder”, which featured solely sounds from the BMW eDrive, such as tapping on the hood and plugging in the electric charger.

Henry’s remix gave grounds for the #BMWeDrive branded hashtag challenge. Throughout the 6-day campaign on Jan 2021, Henry and five other Korean TikTok KOLs created videos calling TikTok users to make a variety of videos with Henry’s remixed soundtrack as the background music. Audiences were free to create content, including replicated versions or fun ways to dance to BMW's Thunder, as part of the campaign.

BMW KOL marketing
Henry’s TikTok video with BMW

The campaign demonstrated huge success. It attracted more than 46 million video views, with 3,400 TikTokers participating in the campaign challenge. It also drove more than 6.29 million engagements, establishing and strengthening the connection between BMW and South Korean audiences. Most importantly, the campaign reached beyond the South Korean market to 49 countries around the world.

2.6. engage target country’s KOLs is a Dutch online travel agency that specializes in hotel reservations and transportation alternatives. Its goal is to make everyone experience the world more easily. Owing to the COVID-19 epidemic, people’s travel patterns and behaviors have evolved. The brand hopes to reinstate the value of travel to Indians, as well as communicate the brand value. With this in mind, tapped into Indian KOLs in February 2021 to talk about their journey in 2021. partnered with five KOLs to share an image of themselves that closely resonated with their travel goal, and described how travel plays a crucial role in their lives using the hashtag #FutureOfTravel and tagging on Instagram. In a bid to increase campaign engagement, KOLs invited their followers to post their 2021 travel goals and tag the brand and the KOL. For gratification and realization of their goals, the campaign winner per influencer would be rewarded gift cards. KOL marketing

As a result, had reached 5M+ Indians on Instagram, with 462K+ follower engagement. The campaign not only managed to convey the brand message to the target audience, but also reinforced the brand’s position in audiences’ minds. By commenting on campaign participants’ posts, stirred two-way dialogues and established relationships with Indian Instagrammers.

3. Tips to Create a Successful Asia KOL Marketing Campaign

1. Identify the right social media platform to reach the targeted Asian consumers

There are numerous social media platforms available for marketers to perform Asia KOL marketing campaigns. Each social media platform has a distinct purpose, and the most engaged users are often different. By recognizing that each country has its own favored and dominant social media networks, it’s important to put your brand in contact with the most receptive audience.

Brands are encouraged to research the targeted Asian country’s general digital marketing landscape and demography, as well as the localized consumer behavior of the target audience. Marketers will then be able to reach the Asian audience by exposing their products on the right social media platform.

2. Choose the right KOLs for your Asia KOL marketing campaign

What sets KOLs apart is their ability to reach out to a specific niche and resonate with them. KOLs are typically considered an expert in their fields and are well-known within their crowd. Examining the audience size, quality, demographics, and reviewing the content of the KOL are inevitably critical. Brands can select KOLs with a follower base that is similar to the demographics and interests of the targeted Asian audience, ensuring the likelihood of your brand reaching them.

Furthermore, KOLs must be aligned with your brand’s value, which assists in transferring your brand message to your audience while making them feel genuine. In AsiaPac, we have our self-developed KOOLER AI, which leverages the 200K+ cross-platform database in Asia to match your brand with the most ideal KOL, generating buzz and increasing your brand awareness.

3. Define goals clearly for effective KOL partnership

Setting a clear and concise marketing objective is the first step in kickstarting a successful KOL partnership. Make sure to communicate your goal and expectation clearly to your KOLs and make sure they understand it. What effect do you wish their content to reach? How many engagements do you want the post to gain?

Initiating a clear onboarding road map ensures KOL fluency with your brand offerings and marketing objectives, facilitating effective communication. Besides, having a regular reporting rhythm with KOLs ensures that everyone is in sync before, during, and after the KOL marketing campaign. The KOL’s approach of showcasing or talking about your brand or product may then be refined, aiming to align with your brand and achieve your marketing goals.

Summary of Asia KOL Marketing Campaigns

Whether you want to raise brand awareness or drive quality conversions in Asia, Asia KOL marketing is a paramount digital marketing strategy for achieving your marketing objectives. There are indeed several approaches to launching an effective Asia KOL marketing campaign. After investigating and learning from the successful Asia KOL cases of the year, are you looking to amplify your Asia KOL marketing campaign and obtain a considerable outcome as them? In AsiaPac, we have a fully strategic KOL marketing solution and self-developed KOL management system KOOLER AI, which provide you with tailored Asia KOL marketing solutions and maximize your campaign’s performance. Click here to enhance your strategies now!

About AsiaPac Net Media

With an extensive digital marketing experience of serving more than 2,500 clients across Asia in sectors such as ecommerce, finance, gaming, travel, retail, beauty, FMCG, education, health products etc. AsiaPac’s expert team is highly recognized for its excellence in providing performance-driven services to businesses across Asia, and global corporates targeting Asia markets. If you’d like to learn more about AsiaPac and the work we’ve done, visit our Cases. For more information on AsiaPac/ AdTech and our services, please contact us at