China’s largest search engine Baidu, has reunited characters Li Lei and Han Meimei in a new campaign. Li and Han, were model students in the popular English learning textbooks in the 1980s, when English was re-introduced into school curriculum.
Digitising an Old Favourite – The Textbook Characters Grow Up
Building on a retro-trend, that first involved T-shirts and memorabilia, and moved to mobile emoticons, Baidu has ‘reunited’ the classic textbook classmates Li Lei and Han Meimei. Knowing this is fun and often parodied memory, particular for later post-80s, who learnt their English through the stories of these two male and female model students.
However, in Baidu’s fun take on Li Lei and Han Meimei, they have ‘grown up’, but miraculously maintained contact through the internet. The hypothetical reunion was timed to provide, and ‘grown-ups’ memory’ of Children’s Day to bring symbols, that in a way, defined Chinese school life for this generation.
Let’s have a look at how Baidu brought the model couple ‘back together’ :-0
Then Baidu created a quiz to ask how Li Lei and Han Meimei would deal with the realities of being a modern couple in China – the textbook characters and with grown-up issues
Why we like this from Baidu?
- After a recent scandal, Baidu needs to give the search engine more of an emotional angle – nostalgia specific to Chinese netizens, was a nice way to do this
- The campaign parodies the idea of modern relationships, something fresh, and a pressure valve in China’s super competitive society
- The campaign thought carefully about how to give the Textbook Characters an interesting new story, while funny it was respectful, and built on the popular emoticons used by post-80s on their phones
- At the end of the day, Baidu is a search engine, so this was an excellent way to give the brand more a social and emotive context to connect with users