SK-II Launches Olympic-Standard AR Battle for Female Empowerment

    An animated series of films by SK-II tells the stories of six well-known female Olympians, starting with Chinese swimmer Liu Xiang.
    VS Obsession, part of SK-II’s latest “Change Destiny” film series, features Chinese Olympic swimmer Liu Xiang. Photo: Courtesy of SK-II
    Miranda YuanAuthor
      Published   in Finance

    Social Commerce – selling through social media – is becoming the norm in China. Simply advertising through Tmall is not enough to attract young Chinese consumers. Every month, Dao Insights selects the brand that has used Chinese social media in an exemplary way to draw attention.


    : June 2021


    : SK-II


    : “Change Destiny”

    Social Platforms#

    : Weibo and WeChat

    About the Campaign#

    Since launching its female empowerment series, “Change Destiny,” in 2015 in China, the P&G-owned Japanese luxury skincare brand SK-II has encouraged millions of women to take destiny into their own hands and break through stereotypes. The success of the “Change Destiny” campaign, focused largely on short films, even spurred the brand to take content creation in-house, with the announcement of the SK-II Studio earlier this year aimed at deepening the brand’s storytelling chops.

    In this Olympic year, SK-II turned to sports for its global campaign. The animated “VS Change Destiny” series of films tells the stories of six well-known female Olympians, with Chinese swimmer Liu Xiang first in the lineup.

    Each episode of the series focused on a specific pressure faced by women, such as judgments about appearances, behavioral expectations, online bullying, and gender stereotypes. In the films, each of the athletes is shown combating a demon that embodies one of these social pressures in order to change her destiny. The campaign sent strong messages encouraging women to overcome stereotypes and fight for their goals with lines such as:

    Being a perfectionist turns us into a robot; a heartbeat will come from loving ourselves. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a choice.

    Commenting on someone’s appearance only takes one second, but talent and achievement will stay with you for your whole life.

    How the Campaign Topped Chinese Social Media#


    : In June, SK-II shared two of the campaign videos on Weibo, drawing more than five million views and spurring conversations. Inspired by the videos, many Weibo users took to the platform to share empowering comments. The June posts were part of an investment in paid promotion on Weibo, which gave SK-II greater exposure and attracted higher levels of engagement than when the videos were first released in May.

    The brand also created an ad page that showcased the six “VS” films and linked users directly to the SK-II website where they could browse its products. SK-II has clearly gone some way to change its own destiny in China through the ongoing campaign, with the “Change Destiny” hashtag (#改写命运#)” receiving a whopping 1.4 billion views on Weibo since its 2015 launch.


    : SK-II made use of WeChat’s popular short-video and livestreaming function, known as Channels, by connecting it to its official WeChat account. After viewing the films on WeChat Channels, users were able to easily return to SK-II’s WeChat account to continue the customer journey. Those seeking an offline experience could track down the nearest SK-II store, while those more inclined to make an immediate purchase would be directed to visit SK-II’s flagship store, which is integrated into WeChat as a mini program and has nearly 16.2 million followers.

    Social Retail Pop-up Store#

    : Further expanding on the concept of online-offline integration, SK-II activated the “Change Destiny” campaign at its first social retail pop-up store that launched in the duty-free hub of Hainan in May. In addition to watching the “VS” films, consumers could take partake in some Olympic action via the brand’s WeChat mini program, with an interactive augmented reality (AR) battle pitting participants against Kaiju, a demon from the series while fighting alongside swimmer Liu Xiang.

    Consumers seeking relaxation after the intense gameplay could try out SK-II’s Mini Magic Scan. Touted as the first skin analyzer that uses AR and facial recognition technology, the Mini Magic Scan takes three minutes to examine a consumer’s skin age, strengths, and potential, and sales associates offer personalized skincare solutions and products based on the results

    Chinese Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) who partnered with the brand posted about the store on WeChat Channels, while a number of other influencers and celebrities took to social channels to share their experiences, fostering increased awareness of the campaign.

    Official Website#

    : The ability to engage in virtual interaction with the campaign wasn’t limited to shoppers in Hainan. SK-II created an entire online “SK-II City” on its official website offering an immersive experience. Consumers exploring the virtual city were given opportunities to learn more about SK-II and the “Change Destiny” campaign and the “VS” films, including behind-the-scenes footage and a #ChangeDestiny cinema to screen the series.

    SK-II Highlights the Power of Brand Storytelling Through New Technology#

    With the animated “VS Change Destiny” films, virtual city, and social retail pop-up store, SK-II revitalized a much-loved and long-running campaign. Building on previous successes can give brands an opportunity to gain traction among consumers who are familiar with its messaging and are eager to see the latest developments.

    SK-II integrated online and offline marketing with commerce to form a more interactive consumer experience and smooth the purchasing journey. In doing so, the brand highlighted the importance of using new technologies, such as virtual reality, to attract consumers’ attention.

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