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BMW Ice Cream Gate: Three Reasons Why a MINI Story Became a Major Incident

There is more behind the BMW MINI ice cream incident than ice cream alone.

Manya Koetse

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The Shanghai Auto Show’s BMW MINI booth and its employees found themselves at the center of a social media storm after a video of their free ice cream promotional campaign made it seem like foreigners got free ice cream while Chinese visitors were told no. The incident has had a major impact, both online and offline. What caused a seemingly minor event to escalate into a significant controversy?

It is the noteworthy incident that made international headlines over the past week: a freebie marketing campaign by German automotive company BMW at the Shanghai Auto Show went horribly wrong.

The incident happened on April 20, 2023, at the Shanghai show’s MINI booth, where two Chinese female workers were giving out free ice cream from a local brand.

A video was posted on Chinese video platforms Bilibili and Douyin that showed staff at the booth refusing ice cream to a local visitor by stating that it had all been given away. However, when a foreign attendee approached, the staff suddenly had ice cream readily available for them.

The person who was filming, a Chinese man named Sun, then stepped up to the booth and ask for ice cream himself. The girls then suggested an app was needed for that, and that they had limited supplies. The video further showed that the only people actually enjoying the Luneurs brand ice cream were all foreigners.

The video footage soon went viral and sparked public outrage over discrimination against Chinese visitors of the show.

Screenshots from the video showed employees ignoring Chinese visitors and giving foreigners icecream (via Weibo).

BMW MINI tried to avert a marketing disaster by issuing an official apology via its social media channels in China on the same day, stating that they regretted that their sweet promotional campaign caused unhappiness “due to the lack of internal management and staff negligence.”

Many people, however, thought the apology was insufficient. “ChatGPT could write [a better apology] than this,” a typical comment said, and some even gave examples of ChatGPT writing a better apology.

“If I can speak English can I have some ice cream?”, another popular comment said. Others said they would never consider buying BMW again.

On April 21, BMW MINI released another statement on its Weibo account, in which they indicated that they had given away 600 ice creams in two days for people coming to the booth with vouchers distributed via the MINI app. At the booth, they had also set aside a few ice creams for their own “very hard-working colleagues” at the show. The statement said that the foreigners in the video were all BMW colleagues, wearing a badge.

They again apologized for the controversy and admitted they had mismanaged the situation, adding that they hope that people can have some tolerance and space for the two female workers who are young and were just newly employed.

The two female employees were reportedly dismissed and the ice cream promotional campaign was stopped (#宝马mini两名发冰淇淋女生已离职#). “You should replace your PR team,” some people suggested.

The controversy further intensified when news came out that, also on Thursday, one female live blogging at the BMW MINI booth was sent away and removed by security.

How could ice creams at an auto show trigger such heated nationwide discussions? There are multiple factors, including historical, societal, marketing, and online media dynamics, that contributed to the incident becoming such a significant issue.

 

1. Painful History: “No Dogs and Chinese Allowed”

 

One of the reasons why the BMW MINI story triggered such sharp criticism, accusations of racism, and emotional reactions, is because the incident stirs up collective memories of a sensitive period in history when Chinese faced humiliation and discrimination by the hands of foreign powers.

In discussions on the BMW MINI ice cream incident, the phrase “Chinese and Dogs Not Admitted” (“华人与狗不得入内”) came up again and again in online comments and memes.

The phrase is widely remembered in the context of a sign in front of Shanghai’s Huangpu Park that was closed to Chinese people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries during the International Settlement. The fact that the ice cream incident took place in Shanghai further reinforced the connection to this local history.

The “No Dogs and Chinese Allowed” sentence, by the way, was never actually displayed as an official sign at the park gate. But there was still a regulation at some point that Chinese visitors, except servants, were not allowed in the park. Bicycles and dogs were also not allowed in the park. Eventually, “No Dogs and Chinese Allowed” turned into a symbol of the nation’s “historical humiliation” (Bickers & Wasserstrom 1995: 446-449).

The sign was also featured in the Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury, and one relevant scene in the film was also shared on Weibo in light of the BMW MINI controversy (watch the scene here).

Because the (imagined) Huangpu sign has left such a lasting imprint on the collective memory of the Chinese public, it comes back up in online discussions whenever there are viral incidents in which Chinese people are made to feel unequal to foreigners in any way.

“So many years have passed, yet still fundamentally there is still [the idea] that foreigners are above us,” one commenter wrote. Others spoke of “BMW’s ‘Chinese and dogs not allowed’ attitude,” and one article called the BMW ice cream incident the 21st century version of “Chinese and dogs not allowed” (“宝马mini冰淇淋事件,是21世纪的“华人与狗不得入内“).

Multiple online discussions associate the BMW ice cream incident with the history of Chinese not being allowed to enter public parks during foreign occupation.

In 2018, Chinese bike-sharing service Ofo received massive criticism when it was exposed that they would give foreigners their deposits back while Chinese customers were ignored. One news headline about special tourist trains for Chinese tourists in Switzerland also triggered controversy in 2015.

When various foreign countries imposed Covid-related travel restrictions only for passengers from China in January of 2023, many netizens also responded with resentment and anger, partly fuelled by Chinese media reports describing the rules as a form of foreign revenge, discrimination against the Chinese, and political conspiracy.

 

2. Consumer Nationalism amd Western Brands

 

Another reason why the Shanghai Auto Show incident received so much attention relates to the specific dynamics of consumer nationalism in China and the BMW brand reputation.

One type of nationalism that has become especially prevalent on Chinese social media in recent years involves online anger Chinese netizens demonstrate toward Western brands. This goes hand in hand with a shift in consumer sentiments, a growing popularity of made-in-China brands along with a rise in cultural nationalism and changing international dynamics (read more).

In July of 2022, the French luxury fashion house Dior came under fire after netizens discovered one of its skirts resembled a Chinese traditional skirt known as mǎmiànqún (马面裙). The brand did not acknowledge that it had used the Chinese traditional design and online anger grew, with many netizens accusing Dior of cultural appropriation (read here).

Western brands faced heavy criticism in China in 2021 when a social media storm erupted over the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and its brand members for no longer sourcing from China’s Xinjiang region. The ‘Xinjiang cotton ban’ led to a major ‘Xinjiang cotton support’ campaign on Weibo, and a boycott for those brands siding with BCI (read here).

Image “Chinese fashion first: consumer nationalism and ‘China Chic’, by Ami/Goethe, see article here.

Condemnation and boycotting of Western brands also became prevalent during the Hong Kong protests in 2019, when Chinese social media users and state media condemned foreign brands for showing any signs of disregarding the One-China Policy. Asics, Calvin Klein, Coach, Givenchy, Versace, Swarovksi, and others were blamed for not respecting China’s sovereignty by listing Hong Kong and Taiwan as different countries on their websites or other products (read here).

In 2018, Italian fashion house D&G got caught up in a major controversy when its promo video campaign came under fire. In of their videos, a Chinese female model clumsily attempted to eat a large cannoli bread with chopsticks; a voice-over said that the cannoli might be “too big” for her. It was not received very well by many netizens on Chinese social media, where people called it “outdated and stereotypical,” “racist,” and “disrespectful.” The controversy snowballed out of control from there and became much worse after screenshots of racist comments attributed to fashion designer Stefano Gabba went viral (read here).

The recent BMW incident is thus part of a larger pattern of Western brands being accused of insulting and disrespecting Chinese people, while the popularity of Chinese (car) brands is rising. Earlier this month, What’s on Weibo wrote an article about how BMW often makes headlines in China in the context of horrific hit-and-run incidents and how the negative headlines are impacting BMW’s brand image in China.

BMW’s negative brand reputation in China exacerbates the impact of the ice cream incident, rather than alleviating it.

Although the brand has had a positive image for its high-quality and luxurious cars, it has also received a lot of unfavorable publicity, creating more negative associations – BMW drivers are generally seen as materialstic and flaunting their wealth. The nationwide attention for the ice cream incident and BMW MINI’s response to it has further damaged the brand’s reputation. The BMW stocks saw a price dip following the incident.

For some BMW car owners, the incident has also had negative consequences. According to various social media posts and photos, some BMW MINI owners saw their cars being scratched or vandalized over the past few days. At least one BMW MINI owner saw ice cream smeared over the front of their car.

 

3. The Snowball Effect of Social Media Storms

 

The incident involving BMW sparked a massive online controversy on Chinese social media, which quickly gained momentum. Initially triggered by one single video, it rapidly spiraled out of control as thousands of netizens joined in, expressing their views and creating their own videos and memes (also see this Twitter thread).

Some social media users also used old cartoons ridiculing preferential treatment for foreigners.

“Classic cartoon never goes out of date” (via Weibo/QCJ大王同学).

One meme suggested that “BMW” stands for: Bīngqílín (冰淇淋, Ice cream), Miǎnfèi (免费, Free), and Wàiguórén (外国人, Foreigners).

Besides general social media users, major brands also played a role in hyping up the incident. Other brands and companies used the firestorm to their advantage. Audi, for example, announced via social media that they would also be handing out ice cream only for Chinese people and other brands also started their own ice cream campaigns.

Chinese media outlets also played a major role in the incident as they kept reporting about the incident and promoted it on social media. By now, there are dozens of Weibo hashtags surrounding the incident and its aftermath, and the majority of them are initiated by Chinese media channels.

Chinese state media accounts also jabbed at BMW. CCTV aired an item showing that there is plenty of ice cream for all staff members on board of the Shandong PLA Navy aircraft carrier. Xinhua News even turned it into a hashtag, accompanied by a laughing emoji (#山东舰今天的冰淇淋是草莓味的#).

Screenshots from CCTV.

“We won’t give it to other countries,” some commenters joked: “Only Chinese can eat it.”

Meanwhile, some big KOL and influencer acounts also helped to attract more attention to the case by discussing it. Chinese political commentator Hu Xijin (@胡锡进), for example, also analyzed the incident. Although Hu called on netizens to be reasonable and have some understanding for the ordinary people who suddenly find themselves at the center of a social media storm, the mere fact that Hu brought the incident up multiple times to his 25 million Weibo followers perhaps did not exactly help in quieting things down.

For now, it seems that the BMW incident might keep fermenting for some time to come. While everyone is still talking about the ice cream incident, a second marketing faux-pas has already come up again as the next promotional freebie given away to visitors at the Shanghai Auto Show BMW booth is a wooden dog-shaped key hanger, giving people the option to engrave their name on it.

Many people also had an issue with this promo campaign: “So first they won’t give us ice cream, now they’re handing out dog tags with our name on it?”

Despite the controversy, many people still lined up at the BMW booth to get their freebies. The online discussions on the issue only seemed to bring more people to the car show. Turns out that bad publicity, after all, is still publicity.

Read more BMW-related articles here.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes  

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

References

Bickers, Robert A., and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom. 1995. “Shanghai’s ‘Dogs and Chinese Not Admitted’ Sign: Legend, History and Contemporary Symbol.” The China Quarterly 142: pp. 444–66. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/655423. Accessed 24 Apr. 2023.

Image

Part of featured image by Mae Mu on Unsplash

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2023 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar

    BRIAN LOPEZ

    April 29, 2023 at 5:28 am

    Man, the nationalism goes deep, no? It’s their own government, not foreign powers. It’s quite sad how easy to manipulate.

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China Brands, Marketing & Consumers

Show-Inspired Journeys: Chinese Netizens Explore Next Travel Destination Through Favorite TV Series

The rising influence of Chinese TV dramas on tourism highlights the synergy between entertainment & social media in China, serving as a powerful tool for travel promotion.

Wendy Huang

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The Chinese TV series Meet Yourself has significantly boosted the popularity of Dali in Yunnan. The series’ success, coupled with the official funding behind it, not only underscores the impactful role of Chinese dramas in tourism but also illustrates how Chinese travel destination promotional strategies are being reshaped in a competitive post-Covid era.

On December 25th, the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture’s Culture and Tourism Bureau in Yunnan Province, Southwest China, announced a proposed subsidy of 2 million yuan ($282k) for the Chinese TV series Meet Yourself (去有风的地方).

The news soon went trending on Weibo (#去有风的地方获200万元补助#). Many found it noteworthy, especially since the announcement clarified that this funding is part of the prefecture’s special fund for cultural and tourism industry development, and the TV series was the only project under consideration.

There are several reasons why Dali might consider this strategy.

Firstly, Dali plays a pivotal role in Meet Yourself. Launched in January 2023, the TV series quickly became an online sensation, achieving an impressive rating of 8.7 out of 10 on Douban—a platform in China similar to IMDb. Spanning 40 episodes, the series features actress Liu Yifei (刘亦菲), renowned for her role in Disney’s live-action Mulan, and Chinese actor Li Xian (李现).

Promotional image for Meet Yourself (去有风的地方).

The narrative follows a white-collar worker in her mid-30s who, following her best friend’s unexpected cancer diagnosis and subsequent passing, embarks on a quest to understand the true meaning and purpose of life.

The TV series not only captivated audiences because of its soothing narrative about life and interpersonal relationships, but the show was also a hit because most of its scenes were filmed in Dali and showed picturesque rural landscapes and portrayed a slow-paced, idyllic lifestyle.

The show accumulated more than 3 billion views on the streaming platform Mango TV by the time its final episode aired on February 2, 2023. It also sparked numerous trending topics on Weibo during that time. For instance, one snapshot from the drama, “Liu Yifei Holding Flowers” (刘亦菲捧花), also went viral, with many netizens even changing their profile pictures to this image. Captivated by Liu’s beauty and charm, they believed that the image possessed some sort of magical power, like the symbolic significance of koi fish in Chinese culture and how they’re believed to bring good luck.

The ‘lucky’ Liu Yifei holding flowers image.

The lucky Liu Yifei holding flowers meme spread across social media in various ways.

Benefiting directly from the popularity generated by the TV series, Yunnan experienced a surge in visitors during the 2023 Spring Festival holiday. This influx significantly boosted its tourism revenue to an impressive 38.4 billion yuan (approximately US$5.4 billion), surpassing all other provinces and regions in the country.

The primary filming location of the drama, the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, welcomed over 4.2 million visitors, marking a significant year-on-year increase. Within the first six days of the holiday, Dali boasted the highest room occupancy rate nationwide, and became the fifth most visited tourist destination across the country.

 
TV Series Inspiring Real-Life Travel to Featured Destination
 

Dali is not the only city or travel destination that has become popular because of Chinese dramas or TV shows. The recent Chinese TV series There Will Be Ample Time (故乡,别来无恙), in which Chengdu plays a major role, has also come to be seen as a promotion for the Sichuan Province capital city.

The series revolves around four women who grew up together, chose different paths in life, and then reconnect in Chengdu. The series showcases the city’s laid-back lifestyle, especially in contrast to the fast-paced metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai where the featured women return from.

Scene from There Will be Ample Time (故乡,别来无恙).

Back in 2003, the TV series Lost Time (似水年华), which was filmed in the historic scenic town of Wuzhen, also became popular. Lost Time was written, directed, and starred by the renowned Chinese actor and director Huang Lei (黄磊). The series narrates a poignant love story of a couple in their thirties who meet in Wuzhen, only to be separated by the vast distance between Wuzhen and Taipei.

The TV series successfully showcased the timeless beauty of the Wuzhen water town to a broader Chinese audience and, indirectly, promoted the town’s unique artistic and cultural atmosphere. This later led to the establishment of the Wuzhen Theatre Festival, a celebration of performing arts and a center for cultural exchange. The festival has since become one of the premier events in China and Asia. Each year, as the festival unfolds, there is a significant increase in business, with tourists flocking to the area.

On social media today, Lost Time is still seen as one of the major reasons why Wuzhen became so popular among Chinese travelers.

Wuzhen featured in Lost Time (似水年华).

But it’s not only the television series that portray a slower-paced and romantic lifestyle that motivate viewers to visit the showcased destinations. In 2020, the filming locations of the popular Chinese crime and suspense drama The Bad Kids (隐秘的角落) not only entertained its audience but also boosted tourism in the actual places where it was shot.

Much of the filming for the TV thriller took place in Chikan, an old township located in Zhanjiang in Guangdong. As a result, Zhanjiang’s popularity as a tourist destination skyrocketed by 261 percent in a single week.

Earlier in 2023, Jiangmen in Guangdong Province also gained popularity after it was featured in the popular crime TV drama The Knockout (狂飙). As a result, it became a sought-after destination during the May Day holiday, drawing numerous TV enthusiasts to the city. Jiangmen reportedly received over 765,200 visitors in the first two days of the May Day holiday alone, generating a revenue of approximately 439 million yuan (US$62.2 million).

Jiangmen’s popularity went beyond the May Day holiday. The Knockout caused a steady influx of visitors to the Guangdong city. From January to October of 2023, the city saw a total of 20,278,200 tourists, a reported year-on-year increase of 85.36%. This resulted in a tourism revenue of 19.649 billion yuan, representing an impressive increase of 133.77%.

 
Beyond the TV Screen: Social Media Creating Travel Hits
 

Over the past few years, we’ve seen how there are always unpredictable factors that help Chinese destinations suddenly become a hit among travelers. For instance, in late 2021, a song titled “Mohe Ballroom” (漠河舞厅) gained popularity across various social media platforms in China. This song narrates the story of a man who, for thirty years, danced alone in the Mohe Ballroom following the death of his beloved wife.

Prior to the song’s release, many Chinese netizens were familiar with Mohe as it is the northernmost point of China, and it is extremely cold. As the song gained traction on social media, the local government seized the opportunity to promote the city’s ice and snow tourism. Now, Mohe has emerged as a new destination for tourists seeking a unique, chilly experience.

Another example is Zibo, an ancient industrial city, which treated students well during their Covid quarantine period. So, when China lifted all Covid restrictions in the spring of 2023, these students returned to express their gratitude and celebrate the city. Their contagious enthusiasm, coupled with their social media posts about the city, sparked nationwide interest and people soon flocked to Zibo to enjoy the vibe and the local BBQ (read more here).

During the summer of 2023, the city of Tianjin became online hit due to a group of energetic seniors who transformed a local bridge into a stage for their remarkable water acrobatics. Tianjin’s so-called “diving grandpas” attracted attention for their daring dives into the river from the Stone Lion Forest Bridge (狮子林桥). Videos of their dives quickly went viral on China’s social media, drawing tourists, including many foreign residents in China, to witness the spectacle firsthand. Some people even joined to dive, including He Chong (何冲), the 2008 Olympic Champion in the 3m springboard.

Tianjin’s diving grandpas had to stop their diving activities after rising to internet fame, causing too many people to dive into the river.

In a playful twist, some visitors created their own scorecards, acting as judges and rating the divers’ performances. However, this spontaneous event eventually had to be toned down due to safety concerns. Despite this, the event kept Tianjin in the spotlight for quite a while as a tourist destination.

Social media has become a vital tool for cities and tourist destinations aiming to attract potential visitors. While some destinations organically become online sensations due to a combination of factors, other efforts are more deliberate and strategic. For instance, in spring of 2023, Chinese local government officials went all out to promote their hometowns via online channels, going viral on Weibo, Douyin, and beyond for dressing up in traditional outfits and creating original videos about their hometowns with low to zero budget.

However, when an article by Xinhua News criticized this approach, suggesting that local officials should prioritize improving service quality in their hometowns rather than striving for internet fame, the online trend appeared to wane.

Over the last year, different regions and industries in China made significant efforts to boost their local economies through tourism to recover from the impact of the pandemic. The China Tourism Academy recently published a report that forecasts that the number of China’s domestic tourists in 2023 has hit 5.407 billion, and domestic tourism revenue will amount to 5.2 trillion yuan. This figure allegedly represents a recovery to 90% compared to pre-Covid year 2019.

The upcoming Chinese New Year’s holiday is expected to kick off a promising start for the Chinese tourism industry in 2024. According to Trip.com data, bookings for the 2024 New Year’s holiday have surged by over threefold compared to the corresponding period last year. Furthermore, Tongcheng Travel highlights skiing, hot springs, Northern Lights viewing, music events, outdoor activities, island retreats, cruises, staycations, and firework displays as the top domestic travel preferences during this holiday season.

As China has significantly relaxed several travel and visa policies for both Chinese and international travelers, the number of outbound travel bookings for the New Year’s holiday on Trip.com has also seen a nearly fivefold increase compared to the same period last year while inbound tourism is on the rise.

Meanwhile, the way in which the TV drama Meet Yourself (去有风的地方) has boosted the tourism industry of Dali, which already was a popular tourist destination, is generating ongoing discussions on Chinese social media as it is a good example of how the integration of destination themes can captivate viewers’ attention, inspiring them to visit and discover the real-life locations.

In this way, TV shows serve as powerful platforms for local tourism authorities across China. First, utilizing television series provides them with a higher level of control compared to other methods of online promotion, including more fleeting trends. The show’s narratives, vibe, and filming locations can precisely showcase a destination’s unique features, attractions, and local culture.

Second, featuring destinations in TV series effectively accomplishes two goals at once, as Chinese TV dramas and online communities have become strongly intertwined. This amplifies the influence and reach of such productions, as fans engage, share, discuss, and promote the series and associated destinations across various social media platforms. And so, a featured scene or image, such as the one with Liu Yifei, can transcend the series itself and become an entire trend of its own on Chinese social media channels.

For travelers, visiting a destination featured in a beloved TV drama is not just about exploring a new location—it’s about experiencing a feeling and and immersing oneself in a fantasy. This trend won’t end with Meet Yourself, as new dramas inspire viewers to visit new locations again. As fans are binge watching the TV series Love Me, Love My Voice (很想很想你), Guangxi’s Guilin is the next hotspot attracting attention online for its portrayal in the show. “I finished watching the show,” one viewer wrote, “Now I want to start traveling.”

By Wendy Huang

Edited for clarity by Manya Koetse

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©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Brands, Marketing & Consumers

Tick, Tock, Time to Pay Up? Douyin Is Testing Out Paywalled Short Videos

Is content payment a new beginning for the popular short video app Douyin (China’s TikTok) or would it be the end?

Manya Koetse

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The introduction of a Douyin novel feature, that would enable content creators to impose a fee for accessing their short video content, has sparked discussions across Chinese social media. Although the feature would benefit creators, many Douyin users are skeptical.

News that Chinese social media app Douyin is rolling out a new feature which allows creators to introduce a paywall for their short video content has triggered online discussions in China this week.

The feature, which made headlines on November 16, is presently in the testing phase. A number of influential content creators are now allowed to ‘paywall’ part of their video content.

Douyin is the hugely popular app by Chinese tech giant Bytedance. TikTok is the international version of the Chinese successful short video app, and although they’re often presented as being the same product, Douyin and Tiktok are actually two separate entities.

In addition to variations in content management and general usage, Douyin differs from TikTok in terms of features. Douyin previously experimented with functionalities such as charging users for accessing mini-dramas on the platform or the ability to tip content creators.

The pay-to-view feature on Douyin would require users to pay a certain fee in Douyin coins (抖币) in order to view paywalled content. One Douyin coin is equivalent to 0.1 yuan ($0,014). The platform itself takes 30% of the income as a service charge.

According to China Securities Times or STCN (证券时报网), Douyin insiders said that any short video content meeting Douyin’s requirements could be set as “pay-per-view.”

Creators, who can set their own paywall prices, should reportedly meet three criteria to qualify for the pay-to-view feature: their account cannot have any violation records for a period of 90 days, they should have at least 100,000 followers, and they have to have completed the real-name authentication process.

On Douyin and Weibo, Chinese netizens express various views on the feature. Many people do not think it would be a good idea to charge money for short videos. One video blogger (@小片片说大片) pointed out the existing challenge of persuading netizens to pay for longer videos, let alone expecting them to pay for shorter ones.

“The moment I’d need to pay money for it, I’ll delete the app,” some commenters write.

This statement appears to capture the prevailing sentiment among most internet users regarding a subscription-based Douyin environment. According to a survey conducted by the media platform Pear Video, more than 93% of respondents expressed they would not be willing to pay for short videos.

An online poll by Pear Video showed that the majority of respondents would not be willing to pay for short videos on Douyin.

“This could be a breaking point for Douyin,” one person predicts: “Other platforms could replace it.” There are more people who think it would be the end of Douyin and that other (free) short video platforms might take its place.

Some commenters, however, had their own reasons for supporting a pay-per-view function on the platform, suggesting it would help them solve their Douyin addiction. One commenter remarked, “Fantastic, this might finally help me break free from watching short videos!” Another individual responded, “Perhaps this could serve as a remedy for my procrastination.”

As discussions about the new feature trended, Douyin’s customer service responded, stating that it would eventually be up to content creators whether or not they want to activate the paid feature for their videos, and that it would be up to users whether or not they would be interested in such content – otherwise they can just swipe away.

Another social media user wrote: “There’s only one kind of video I’m willing to pay for, and it’s not on Douyin.”

By Manya Koetse

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