California Walnut Ads – Chinese Women in Japanese Schoolgirl Uniforms?

For three straight years China was the largest importer of California walnuts in the world. That was until last year when China’s domestic walnut crop jumped 35 percent above normal.

California walnut sales to China dropped by more than 60 percent as a result.

With no comparable market to fill the void, west coast walnut growers had to do something to win back Chinese consumers and secure sales of the next harvest.


California walnut farmers have a considerably different sales approach when pitching their product in China than they do back home in the U.S.

They called on the California Walnut Commission who then tapped award-winning ad agency Grey Hong Kong to rebuild brand equity in the Chinese market.

Marching orders in hand, Grey put together a campaign.

Allow me to briefly sketch it out for you:


The ad is a music video featuring a Chinese girl pop group named “Recess Princess”. In the video they sing and dance around in Japanese schoolgirl uniforms seducing complacent schoolboys into eating California walnuts to get higher test scores.

Come on, you know you’re sitting there right now muttering to yourself, why didn’t I think of that?!

California Walnuts Schoolgirl Uniforms China

Schoolgirl Uniforms = Higher Walnut Sales?

Advertising with grown women in school uniforms is not an altogether unusual trope –especially in East Asia. Though, to the best of our knowledge, never has it been used for the promotion of walnuts.

The goal of the ad, besides the promotion of nutritious agricultural products, is to combine “song and dance to deliver the message of how walnuts are an excellent source of brain food to help achieve higher test scores.”

Here are some of the lyrics, in the event that an insufficient walnut intake is hampering you from catching on:

-Brain cells, brain cells, jumpstarting quickly
-California Walnuts, California Walnuts, everybody come go nuts with me
-Get ready for higher test scores, now crack a smile and take your test confidently

Well, there you go.

Time will tell if Chinese women in Japanese schoolgirl uniforms singing about the virtues of a good walnut and brain power will resurrect California walnut sales –or cause an increase in good study habits for that matter.

Will parents soon have teenaged sons demanding their lunch sacks be filled with California walnuts? Will Chinese netizens take issue with the Japanese style uniforms and call for a boycott of the state of California? Will the campaign be such a success that they run it in the U.S. market?

Obviously, the latter is the least likely.

Have a look and a listen for yourself. Be warned, it’s a bit catchy.

Is this something the “Family Farmers” Would Approve of?

In the “About” section on the California Walnut Commission website we find this:

“More than 99% of the walnuts in U.S. are grown in the fertile soils of California’s Central Valley. And this is made possible by the efforts of the 4000 or so family farms that have been growing walnuts of the highest quality for over a century.”

I wonder what their take is on the ads being played for their sake in China. If that’s what the culture permits and it brings a boost in sales in the world’s largest market, should they really even care?

Ad Credits

Agency: Grey Hong Kong
Client California Walnut Commission
Song: Recess for the Mind
Artist: Recess Princess ft. Wallie
Label: CWC Records International

Baby got Dvořák

What the Cali walnut growers did is not so unusual a tact to get the attention of the younger demographic. Remember this clip shot in South Korea in 2014 to stir youth interest in a Belgian classical music festival?

Dvořák and Kpop dance moves –welcome to the new world.

Ad Credits

Agency DDB Brussels
Creative director Peter Ampe
Creative team Tim Arts, Stefan Van Den Boogaard
Design Christophe Liekens
Dancers: Ari, Miu, Rumi, Jin, Yess from Waveya


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Bobby McGill

Bobby McGill

Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

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