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Posts Tagged ‘China’

Walmart’s Chinese Donkey Meat Got a Little Too Foxy

Gross

In what may be 2014′s biggest revelation to date, we now know that the fox says “I’m not a donkey.”

Three things we learned from today’s Wall Street Journal story:

  • Walmart operates in China’s Shandong province
  • “Five spice” donkey meat is popular among customers in said province
  • Walmart will now pay approximately $8 to each person who bought that delicious product after testing revealed the presence of DNA from other animals (including foxes) in the meat

What else is there to know?

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China Lands on the Moon, Immediately Takes a Selfie

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Does this lunar soil match my outfit?

Landing on the moon is definitely a big deal; no “kind of” involved. So of course it didn’t surprise us to learn that China eagerly broadcast its lunar arrival via all available channels last night.

The country’s rover/lander duo touched down on the moon’s surface and quickly broadcast selfies of one another to the world at large as President Xi Jinping looked on. It seemed like a smooth operation; the rover simply had to turn around first to make sure everyone could see its bright red flag pin.

Check out the lander after the jump.

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Chinese Marketers Create the Best Fake Holidays

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Single…and loving it!

Here in the U.S., lots of people get upset as Black Friday campaigns grow bigger and start earlier each year.

But when it comes to fake holidays that double as marketing campaigns, the Chinese retail industry has us beat—and it’s not even close.

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Chinese Government to Tourists: Don’t Pick Your Nose or Pee in the Pool

OK.The Chinese government doesn’t just want to present its own best face to tourists; it also wants its tourists to present their best faces to the rest of the world.

This Wednesday the China National Tourism Administration released a 64-page book—complete with illustrations—designed to help its citizens overcome the perception that they may not be the world’s most gracious guests when traveling abroad. This latest public service campaign has turned a few heads in the West mainly because we can’t quite imagine our own government issuing such edicts.

Here are some of the key takeaways from this epic PSA:

  • Don’t sneeze or pick your nose or teeth in public
  • Keep your nose hair neatly trimmed
  • Don’t steal airplane life jackets
  • Don’t pee in the pool
  • Don’t force locals to take your picture
  • Make sure women wear earrings when in Spain lest they “be considered effectively naked”
  • Don’t steal any saltwater animals if you go swimming in the ocean

And our favorites:

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China’s ‘Black PR’ Industry Uses Social Media Influencers to Spread False Gossip

It seems that even the notoriously corrupt Chinese government worries about PR ethics.

Earlier this year we reviewed a telling report on what’s known as China’s “black PR” industry—a game run on the power of blackmail and personal sabotage. It’s all about digital “entrepreneurs” either finding or planting stories about brands, prominent politicians and business leaders online. If the content is defamatory, these men will approach their victims and offer to remove it for a steep fee.

Looks like the business might not stay that way for long. Last week the Beijing Times ran with the headline “Qin Huohuo’s online black society rumor mongering brought under control“, reporting that two of the most notorious web practitioners who ran companies “paid by other companies to artificially generate grassroots online activity for their benefit” had been arrested as part of a general crackdown on corruption. Their services are described as such:

…web marketing, creating online scandals or events, damaging the reputations of rivals or competitors, deleting negative comments from online forums…

That’s not even the worst part.

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Chinese Billionaire’s ‘Fresh Canned Air’ Stunt Doing Quite Well, Thanks

Chinese billionaire/philanthropist Chen Guangbiao‘s uniquely capitalist campaign to “protesting” air pollution has attracted a good bit of Western media attention over the past few weeks. Here’s the crazy thing: it’s working!

Chen first began selling his “canned fresh air” product last September in an effort to “heighten public awareness on environmental protection and the importance of clean air”– and this week we learned that it’s selling quite well despite the fact that the whole endeavor looks like nothing more than a big PR stunt.

The air–which was “collected” from low-pollution areas to be sold for less than a dollar a can in flavors like “Pristine Tibet”–has flown off urban Chinese supermarket shelves in recent weeks as a particularly brutal wave of smog washes over Beijing and the surrounding areas.

Was Chen really trying to convince the government to take action in combating pollution? Was he just looking to make money? Or does the “fresh air” project serve as a nice illustration of the inherent conflicts between a pseudo-capitalist economy and an authoritarian state?

Well, Chen claims to donate all the project’s profits to charity and he’s recently taken to handing out free cans in the street, so we’d call this a particularly creative and well-funded approach to issue-based advocacy campaigns.

Last but not least: You didn’t really think we’d forget this little nugget, did you?

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2012’s Top Chinese Social Media Branding Stories

Nike ChinaCapturing the Chinese market is every marketer’s dream. More than a billion potential customers in a newly open society that continues to grow more and more infatuated with brand-name goods? We can certainly see why everyone’s so interested.

So what are the world’s largest companies doing to familiarize the Chinese public with their products? Well, 2012 found them executing a lot of sly promotional campaigns via social media. Jeremy Webb (@thepekingorder), co-lead of Social@Ogilvy Beijing, recently provided us with his list of the year’s top 10 brand posts on Weibo, the Chinese micro-messaging equivalent of Twitter. It’s a fascinating list that shows us how PR/marketing practices in China are quite similar to those in the Western world.

In fact, we’d say that speedy, topical posts offering clever takes on the day’s “water cooler” topics are even more valuable in China than in the United States. Take, for example, the year’s most-shared post, which predictably concerned the Summer Olympics: It’s a Nike ad with a message about fairness, indirectly referring to the fact that many Chinese citizens believed the London judges to be biased against Chinese athletes.

Damage control is important in China, too:

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People’s Daily Runs With Kim Jong-un ‘Sexiest Man’ Spoof

Kim Jong-unThe People’s Daily unambiguously describes itself as “the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China”. Based on that description and a few handy stereotypes, you might expect the rag to be a humorless collection of articles offering nothing but effusive praise for the nation and its single-party government—and you’d be right!

Today, however, we also note that the editors of the Daily seem to be missing a crucial snark detector. A quick glance at the site’s English landing page reveals a feature based on the recent Onion spoof naming North Korean Communist dictator-by-birth Kim Jong-un as “The Sexiest Man Alive”, reprinted with nary a hint of irony.

The best part about it? The editors didn’t just run the story—they added their own 55-page slideshow to highlight all the best things about their favorite ally/supreme leader/murderous despot.

Did they really not get the joke? The fact that they reprinted this ridiculous quote in full makes us wonder:

“With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true. Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper’s editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.”

And here’s a picture of him riding horseback, because that’s just the kind of thing sexy men do.

Kim Jong-un again

The Communist Party Guide to Damage Control

We’re going to make a somewhat bold assessment: If the People’s Republic of China weren’t a one-party country, the ruling Communist bureaucracy’s PR efforts would not be particularly effective. Party spokesmen (and they’re always men) have no discernible sense of humor, and they aren’t too skilled in the art of nuance–their public proclamations have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

An interesting study in Communist Party PR unfurled this week. For the past year or so, Chinese politics has revolved around the sort of organized transfer of power that occurs once every decade; most observers believe that current President Hu Jintao will hand the reins off to his VP, Xi Jinping.

The transfer, already plagued by the arrest of top official Bo Xilal and his wife on charges of fraud and murder, ran into even more controversy thanks to a recent New York Times expose focused on the finances of prime minister Wen Jibao‘s family–a proudly humble clan that has somehow managed to accumulate billions of dollars in assets over recent years via assorted business alliances.

Like the Wen family’s finances, the Party’s damage control plan is all over the map: First censors blocked web access to the Times site throughout China; then they scanned the popular Chinese Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo in order to scrub all references to the number 2.7 billion (the supposed financial worth of the PM’s family). After relying on the government to implement a “nothing to see here” approach, members of the Wen family pivoted, directly addressing a story that they’d previously tried to erase and threatening legal action against the Times for reporting on “corporate and regulatory records” that were available to the public. What’s more, the family never directly addressed any of the story’s particulars–and the Times report did not allege any sort of illegal activity.

This completely ineffective response to the scandal hints at the complexity of Chinese politics: in an unelected government, public perception is invaluable because brute force can only accomplish so much.

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B-M China Launches Digital Practice

Burson-Marsteller China has launched D/BM, a digital and social media influencer practice. Zaheer Nooruddin, the firm’s lead digital strategist for Greater China, will lead the new practice.

The practice will provide online engagement and digital strategies, measurement and monitoring services, and identify influencers.

We spoke with Vibrant‘s Jonathan Gardner about digital trends across Asia. Gardner has lived and worked in the region, and recently paid a visit (just for fun). Check out some of that info here.

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