24 February 2022

Isobar Tastemakers: Xiabing Li

Xiabing "Ice" Li – Planning Manager, Isobar China, kicks off our Tastemakers series – celebrating the fantastic talent behind our business.
How did you end up being in the strategy industry? 

I hardly even knew anything about advertising before I went to college. When I was choosing my major, I came across media planning – me and family thought it was curation for Disney…But after I started my college life, I realised it was about strategy and planning. Till then I came to know that an advertisement is a piece of work with so many ideas and collaborations with lots of people. 

Among all my college courses, the observation of other people's lives and the psychology behind them was something I found very interesting. One assignment I remember finding particularly difficult, but also quite fun, involved figuring out the pain points and needs of people in their 30s. Just imagine a group of 18-year-olds racking their brains, trying to imagine what our lives at 30 will be like!

Most of the time, we ourselves were the target audience. We started to put ourselves in other places, noticed things and preferences that we didn't care about before, and discovered something new every day. This encouraged me to start building my career in planning, step by step.


What's your favourite piece of work you have worked on? 

KFC WOW Bucket X eSports

My favorite piece of work is the KFC WOW Bucket X eSports, though my interest in eSports was inspired by another project of Isobar. 

I’ve got my favorite team and even bought tickets myself to watch the live games. It just so happened that I got the chance to work on the WOW bucket and eSports project when I was an eSports insider – with knowledge of what fans, like myself, were thinking. 

In the content development, I was able to contribute quite a lot of memes only the insiders knew. It’s been a memorable experience for me as for the first time I could enjoy both the work and my interest.


What's the one piece of work you most wish you'd done? 

As a big fan of ACGN, I was thrilled to have been involved in the KFC campaign in collaboration with Gintama. A dream come true – though by the time I joined the project, most of the content had already been finalised. The campaign was a big success and popular with the audience. But I keep thinking ‘what if I got involved earlier?' Maybe I could have contributed more ideas on the value added products, memes and classic clips that fans adore.


What's the craziest thing you've ever done? 

In a competition in college, me and another planner finished a whole deck from consumer insights to visual without any creative support. 

Luckily, I managed to learn how to edit images in PowerPoint which I am still using now and passed this skill to lots of my associates. As WIFI is not available at school during nighttime while we had to meet the deadline, we were wandering across the city all night with our laptops looking for opening stores we could stay in.


What career did you think you'd have when you were a kid? 

When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an animal trainer in a circus. To me, being an animal trainer seems even more magic than being a magician. Just a simple wave and the animals would know what to do next. There’s no other job like this,where I could work with these lovely creatures all the time and be partners. 

When I grew up, I came to understand why the animals can be so tame, and I began thinking that I would love working for NGOs with animals, or as a volunteering planner.


What advice would you give to 10-year-old you, if you could? 

I want to give 10-year-old me some very helpful advice from my own experience – get more sleep, otherwise you are doomed to go bald.


What's your guilty pleasure? 

I would say spending money to draw cards in mobile games in the last two years gave me my happiest moments. I once spent 1000 RMB on a character but failed to get itDrawing cards is absolutely my fallacy as a gambler, which made me believe that good luck visits sooner or later as long as I keep trying. Sometimes I get lucky and just cannot help sharing my excitement with every friend and community I know, whether they know the game or not.


What app could you absolutely not live without? What app do you wish you could delete? 

I visit Bilibili every night! Last year, my Bilibili annual report showed that I logged on 365 days in a year, which even exceed a friend of mine who works at Bilibili. A day without checking out what funny videos newly launched online, or what new gaming my favorite uploaders are playing is just not complete for me. One day I must get gaming out of my mind and my apps before they make me broke.