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How KLM explores the Chinese advertising market with WeChat

670K users
200+ Followers

In recent years, the number of outbound Chinese travellers has rapidly grown. The Netherlands has become one of their most popular destinations while simultaneously acting as a gateway to other countries. These developments opened up opportunities for KLM who wanted to increase their visibility in China through brand awareness and engagement with their Chinese followers on WeChat. In collaboration with Dept, KLM has successfully mastered this goal.

The Project

KLM aims to be where their customers are. Given that WeChat is the biggest and most widely used app in the Chinese market, that’s where the airline decided to expand its presence, increase their campaign offers and eventually build brand presence. For KLM that meant using the multi-purpose social media and messaging app to offer Chinese passengers the best digital service, brand content & innovation and commercial offers to eventually attract more followers. In order to do so, both KLM and Dept created a year-around campaign on WeChat.


Expanding while staying true to their caring nature

Growing visibility

KLM aims to become one of the most visible airlines amongst the numerous western airline companies present in China. Using WeChat to achieve this goal was a logical step which matched their digital strategy. At the same time, they worked on a clearer position in the industry as one of the most caring airlines as well as maintaining a close customer relationship by providing practical information and services to their existing customers as well as potential future consumers.

A caring nature

This is where Dept supported KLM. The digital agency started by analysing past post performances along with studying KLM’s key brand values. After comparing the analysis outcomes with current post performances, Dept came up with approachable yet funny content with a more social tone of voice all the while keeping KLM’s biggest selling point in mind, their ‘caring’ nature. Following the content revamp, this character was captured by WeChat follower and nicknamed: ‘Da Lan’ or ‘Big Blue’. And this exactly symbolizes the further establishment and maintenance of the ‘close friends’ customer relationship KLM seeks.

Regarding organic content, Dept came up with topics that demonstrate KLM’s key values all the while hooking the curious Chinese readers. The next step was tailoring the structure, the writing style and word use towards the tastes of Chinese social media users. In order to achieve a higher click-through rate, a funny and strong outer-layer copy was adopted to evoke the audiences’ curiosity about the long copy.

The target audience

The audience was targeted based on two criteria. First, the ‘golden age’ audience between the ages of 20 to 45 was targeted through moment advertising. Then, the two collaborating parties filtered the audience based on their geographical area with the core cities of Beijing and Shanghai as well as the key cities of Chengdu, Hangzhou and Xiamen being the main focus areas within the Chinese market. Moreover, the locations with flight routes operated by KLM were kept in mind when targeting, in order to keep the ad relevant. Besides KLM’s original branding and sales campaigns, part of the budget was spent on pushing well-performing organic posts to attract new followers.



Among the airline companies operating in the Chinese market, KLM now boasts some of the highest view numbers for their organic content (10K-15K per post). At the same time, their ‘caring’ key value has started to root itself in the hearts of Chinese social media users’, and has quickly become a first-order association in their mind. Besides receiving a lot of positive comments on the WeChat platform, some of the results have been quantified:

  • 4 organic posts reached 670K+ people and generated 36K views p.m.
  • Daily organic growth of 200+ new followers.
  • Every ‘moment ad’ brought 500-2000 new followers.

What's next?

In December 2018, Dept conducted another round of KOL campaigns on KLM’s WeChat. With a budget of 6,4K, the agency worked with 4 KOL’s in total and observed positive results, in terms of reach(410K), view number(63K), view-rate(15,78%), user engagement(741 likes, 148 comments and 145 user photos), follower conversion as well as cost-effectiveness.

Besides continuing with current content planning of organic posts and moment advertising, Dept is also running a long-term KOL campaign to increase brand awareness and contribute to the follower growth and brand presence on WeChat.

These people know everything about this project


Jemima Van Oldenbarneveld

Digital Marketing Consultant