Cannes Lions

Return To Kekexili

J. WALTER THOMPSON, Shanghai / SHELL / 2018

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Shell recognizes daily challenges of the road can hinder driver's passion for the drive. Our creative solution sought to inspire people to keep driving on to achieve whatever passions and goals they have. We summarized this thought with the creative idea, 'Drive On'.

In 2017, a momentous cultural event happened in China: Kekexili, a mountainous Tibetan region, achieved World Heritage status. This coincided with the 15th anniversary of a movie that triggered public support for Kekexili's conversation efforts. Its director, Lu Chuan, is widely known to have overcome many production problems and harsh high altitude terrain to complete the movie, now considered a masterpiece. Our creative idea was to leverage this culturally momentous occasion to connect the brand with driven, ambitious Chinese drivers. We would pay tribute to Lu Chuan's spirit of 'driving on' beyond adversity and through him, encourage drivers in China to follow in his footsteps.


We started the campaign with a nationwide recruitment drive on social media and delivered a personal WeChat invitation from Lu Chuan to China’s driving community. Participants thought they were interacting with the filmmaker himself which was in fact a clever AI chatbot. In the end, two winner were selected to join the road trip. Along the way, we live-telecasted on-ground activations and created content for an interactive map - allowing people to follow the journey in realtime. We also got the filmmaker to shoot an online film, further inspiring drivers to consider how they are pursuing the spirit of 'Drive On' in their own lives.


The campaign outperformed brand preference KPIs and took Shell back to the top spot in the category. It also became one of the most watched and talked about content films in China.

Against our brand preference KPI of growing from 20% to above 22%, the campaign achieved 23%, beating Castrol with 17% preference and Mobil with 21%. For the second KPI to increase brand last used from 19% to 20%, the campaign delivered 3% growth to 22%. This result again beat the competition, with Castrol at 18% and Mobil at 19%.

Our emotion-led content received 30.7 million views, 25 million more than the industry average. Over 20,000 new Helix WeChat followers were added during the first phase of the campaign.

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