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westOeast Blog Chinese Koi-1

1 Sole Winner out of 3,000,000 Reposters

How Alipay “Chinese Koi” lucky draw campaign became a sensational phenomenon


Alipay, a third-party mobile and online payment platform affiliated to Alibaba, kicked off its lucky draw event on Weibo, widely known as a Chinese social media hybrid of Facebook and Twitter, right before the week-long Chinese national holiday, which is commonly when travel spending peaks.

Aimed at encouraging Chinese overseas travelers to use its app as the means of payment, Alipay announced that it would randomly pay off overseas expenditure that went through its app. There was more to it. It would draw the one and only jackpot winner among all the reposters as “Chinese Koi”, the most popular Chinese Internet slang nowadays whose meaning is equivalent to lucky dog in English, and shower him/her with bounteous gifts.

The Campaign

As a prominent Weibo IP whose service was widely accepted by merchants around the world for its convenient payment method to attract Chinese customers, Alipay’s Weibo campaign immediately drew attention from both followers and brand IPs, with the latter vied for the chance in the comment section to have their freebie offers added to the original gift list after spotting the potential mutual benefits from brand collaboration and resource sharing. The grand prize list thus became dynamic and continued rolling on. The snowball effect worked in every participating brands’ favor since the influence and exposure were exponentially amplified after offers piled up. Among all of those contributors, 加拿大旅游局, Destination Canada’s official Weibo account, bucked the trend. Rather than promising any material incentives like the others in the comment section, it offered its most sincere welcome to all Chinese people to visit Canada and jumped to top ranking comments. Without spending a penny, its Weibo account yielded 62.1k “likes”, almost 1.6k comments and numerous retweets within a couple of days.

westOeast Blog Chinese Koi-2

westOeast Blog Chinese Koi-2 Screenshot from Official Weibo Account


Alipay announced the “Chinese Koi” on Oct 7, the last day of Chinese golden week, putting Weibo IP “信小呆” in the spotlight. “信小呆” surged to Internet stardom and acquired over 300k followers overnight. Right after the announcement, Alipay uploaded a short video featuring two long red banners with gift list printed on being unraveled. Such ceremonial gesture showcased the campaign’s social media and marketing clout and paved the way for amassing more participants for similar events in the future. Alipay also seized every opportunity to proactively interacted with the new Internet celebrity it created, further exploiting the popularity of the topic.


westOeast Blog Chinese Koi-3

westOeast Blog Chinese Koi-3 *Screenshots from Alipay Official Weibo Account


The follow-up to the campaign

In fact, shortly after Alipay’s success on Weibo went viral, it was widely adopted by assorted brands who paired with their own products and marketing needs. The derivative of the successful digital campaign prototype Alipay originated extended the prevailing phenomenon on Chinese social media. “Chinese Koi” has been adopted as a key advertising element by various Weibo and WeChat IPs and tacitly become the synonym to lucky draw winner. Chinese social media users would probably continue to see the two words for a while before the magic is completely depleted.

westOeast Blog Chinese Koi-4

westOeast Blog Chinese Koi-4 *Pictures from the Internet


Tips & Takeaways

  1. One astonishing grand prize for a sole winner is way more sensational compared to distributing smaller gifts to multiple participants.
  2. Synergy played a critical role in amplifying the influence of the sensational social media campaign. As a prominent IP whose core service is a payment tool, Alipay captured business clients’ inclination to participate and embraced collaboration, which not only helped expand the pool of target audience and raise the total value of the prize, but also furthered brands interaction and bonding.
  3. If you want to stand out, think out of the box and device something maverick. Monetary incentives are not always the most sought-after thing. It is imperative to know your target audience and analyze what messages/offers work the best for a specific instance.
  4. When a marketing event was proven successful, learning the key factors and evolving in accordance with one’s own branding and marketing needs will likely lead to a quick win.


About westOeast

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If you are looking for an agency staffed with marketing experts conversant with both Chinese and western cultures and versed social campaign planning and influencer marketing, there is no need to look any further.

Contact us today at for a free consultation, or to discuss your next marketing project. One of our members will respond to you promptly.