By Heather Taylor, Advertising Week
What’s black, white, and winking all over? It’s none other than the QQ Penguin, the adorable brand mascot behind Tencent QQ. For readers unfamiliar with the company, QQ is an instant messaging platform for PC and mobile devices that has grown to be one of China’s biggest social platforms among young Chinese users. With 861 million active monthly user accounts, QQ lets users communicate with one another through text, video, pictures, and stickers.
The QQ Penguin — better known as QQ — is always present in the company logo, but how much do we really know about him? Let’s get to know more about this character, his friends, and everywhere else you might have spotted him throughout the world.
Founded in 1998, Tencent launched its QQ instant messaging software in 1999. When designing the logo, the founders including the company CEO and CTO created several designs themselves. The original QQ logo was actually a chubby, cute pigeon. This echoed a Chinese idiom of a flying pigeon delivering a letter to someone. Audiences loved the logo design, but many thought it looked more like a penguin than a pigeon, even to the point where they began to refer to the logo as a penguin. Users eventually wound up voting online to keep the penguin and it became the official mascot for QQ thereon.
What is QQ like? As the leader of the QQfamily (which is Tencent’s social IP that primarily focuses on QQ), QQ cares about everyone and is very smart, especially in the IT field. He’s curious about things happening around him, has a dry sense of humor, and his friends consider him to be reliable so they naturally trust and follow him. And so do his fans as QQ makes it very easy to spot him in a crowd with his distinctive red scarf and winking eye (which is designed that way on purpose as if he’s saying hi to you).
Other members of the QQfamily tree include babyQ (a cute, baby penguin), Dov the polar bear, Eskimo Qana, Oscar the seagull, and Anko the parrot. The QQfamily is more than just a band of loveable characters though, as the group represents a youthful, fun, and positive attitude towards life.
You can also spot members of the QQfamily all over China! Here are a handful of brands where QQ and the QQfamily have recently collaborated with over the last few years.
KFC: In 2016, QQ and international fast food chain KFC kicked off a brand crossover promotional campaign where over 5 million “QQ Buddy Sets” were launched in KFC stores throughout China. The QQ Buddy Sets included products like the Chicken and Shrimp Burger and Citrus and Lemon Fruit Tea where a QQ coins top-up “flash card” was randomly included in each set. Cardholders that used the password provided by the card could top up their QQ coins and enjoy QQ membership. In celebration of the promotion, KFC also gave over 5,000 of their China stores a makeover with QQfamily decorations and themes.
Casio: Also in 2016, fashion brand Casio partnered with QQ on products and fashion promotions using the QQ brand image. The Casio G-SHOCK watches were even customized with the Tencent QQ 18th Anniversary Limited Edition Gift Box complete with QQ’s likeness.
Midea Group: In January 2017, QQ and Midea Group signed an official cooperation agreement together where the two companies decided to cooperate in IP authorization and ioT cloud technologies. One of their first big steps together in the collaboration? Co-launching smart household electronic products including refrigerators, washing machines, and air conditioners together based on the QQfamily IP authorization and Tencent’s ioT cloud technologies.