For decades, China’s authorities have battled against the attritional damage dealt to the Great Wall of China by locals scouring for cheap building materials and tourists hunting for souvenirs. Fortunately, its modern-day stewards have a masterplan to bring the UNESCO World Heritage site into the hands and homes of the culturally curious without the negative side effects. It involves a nexus of digital strategies that leverage the intellectual property (IP) of the 5,000-mile long wall via livestreaming, e-commerce, and online events — approaches pioneered by Chinese cultural institutions throughout 2020.
The Great Wall Society of China, the organization responsible for the wall’s protection and promotion, has partnered with Scienjoy, a Chinese live entertainment company that operates a range of consumer-facing mobile platforms.
The agreement allows Scienjoy to use the Great Wall’s IP to promote the site domestically and internationally through products and events, both online and offline. On the product side, Scienjoy intends to create products before promoting and selling them on its livestreaming and e-commerce platforms.
Why it matters
The Great Wall of China is actively pursuing a multimillion dollar consumer trend. The popularity of products integrating cultural IP — covering everything from quirky food and beverage offerings to cutesy collectable figurines, known in China as wenchuang (文创) — surged among Gen Z and Millennial consumers during the pandemic. The value of China’s wenchuang industry expanded 85 percent between 2014 and 2019 (see graph) and likely grew further in 2021 given the majority of sales take place on e-commerce sites such as Taobao and JD.com.
The licensing agreement with Scienjoy is part of a broader strategy to develop the profile and revenue opportunities of the Great Wall of China, which has gathered momentum in the run-up to the 2022 Winter Olympics. In mid-March, Chinese authorities confirmed the development of a major museum at Badaling, the most visited sector of the wall an hour’s drive northwest of Beijing.
It’s not the first time a major entertainment and technology company has focused on the IP potential of the Great Wall. In 2018, Tencent’s “Next Idea,” a competition for young designers, invited entries that incorporated elements of the iconic structure. Highlights included a porcelain humidifier, a wooden furniture series, and a travel set.
What is Scienjoy?
Founded in 2011, Scienjoy is a China-based technology company specializing in operating mobile livestreaming platforms. Its four main applications (Showself, Lehai, Haixiu, and BeeLive) focus on e-commerce livestreaming and have more than 240 million users. Scienjoy listed on the NASDAQ in May 2020.
What Scienjoy says:
“The cooperation between Scienjoy and the Great Wall Society of China has given full play to the advantages of both parties to help connect traditional cultural products and tourism with cutting-edge online livestreaming entertainment. This and other e-commerce and cultural partnerships will continue to leverage Scienjoy’s advantages to build a diverse mobile livestreaming ecosystem centered on entertainment and e-commerce.” — Victor He, Chairman and CEO of Scienjoy