Cannes Lions

Cornetto Love Notes

PHD, Shanghai / UNILEVER / 2017

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Love is complicated for Chinese teens. They are highly focused on academic pursuits, and are restrained by family and societal pressures that make it hard for them to explore young love. As a consequence, they tend to keep their crushes hidden, and express their attraction through subtler means like emojis, memes and slang.

The entire life of a Chinese teen—from chatting to listening to music, finding what to eat and where to go, buying groceries and paying bills—is lived through their smartphones. Time spent by this demographic on computers is now a fraction of the time spent on mobile phones.

To tempt Chinese teens into engaging with the brand, Cornetto aimed to seamlessly integrate itself into the digital social lives of teenagers through a mobile-first campaign that would help them connect from their digital sphere and into real world experiences.


Over the course of the summer, love confession opportunities were embedded throughout teen-relevant media.

Digitally: Via an interactive mobile site, teens could send a ‘Digital Cornetto’ love confession with scripted templates or compose their own bespoke designs. The receiver only got 520 seconds to view it before it ‘melted away’.

Physically: We created the world’s first love confession vending machines, dispensing customized Cornetto wrappers and placed them in many of the hottest dating spots around China. These were listed as “must go” destinations on the Chinese equivalent of Yelp – called Dianping - stimulating interest and fuelling the line.

Auditory Experience: Through Tencent’s QQ Music (China’s biggest streaming music platform), teens to could send heartfelt lyrics and music on social feeds or privately to their crushes.

Teens’ own special way: We made confessions even easier online and created unique Cornetto GIF emojis on WeChat (China’s leading messaging platform).


Nearly 15 million Chinese teens engaged with at least one aspect of our campaign over the course of summer. Sales value increased by 5.1% YoY while the ice cream category grew only 1.8%. By beating the category growth by almost 3 times, the investment in marketing was easily recouped, delivering positive momentum for Cornetto’s profits.

However, what really melted our hearts was over 3 million Chinese teenagers confessed their love via the campaign and we connected with 38 million more across the campaign - equivalent to RMB 46 million in earned media.

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