As soon as Zhou Qi was picked, Chinese youth took to social media to show their support. Among all the positive words, we found something rather odd but in fact quite fascinating: some fans were telling him “Don’t come back!” not because they resented him, but because they wanted him to have a long and successful career in the USA, and never need to return to China.
We jumped on this cultural “inside joke” and turned it into a challenge as well as encouragement to Zhou Qi and all Chinese basketball players. At half-time during Zhou’s debut for the Rockets, we launched a film on broadcast and online—”Don’t Come Back”—that featured some of the best young basketball talent in China. The players congratulated Zhou Qi, but warned him not to get comfortable. They challenged him to show them the spirit of "always want the ball," otherwise they would be the ones to take it.
By taking something that was already part of the culture and putting a spin on it, we were able to create an authentic brand point of view that resonated with our basketball audience and also elevated Zhou Qi to a higher level.