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Can’t Buy Me Trump – Is Trump Merchandise Being Censored on Taobao?

While some Chinese businesses are doing good business with Trump-related merchandise, e-commerce giant Taobao blocked virtually all Trump products on its desktop version on election day.

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While some Chinese businesses are doing good business selling Trump-related merchandise, e-commerce giant Taobao blocked virtually all Trump products on its desktop version on election day, What’s on Weibo found.

The victory of Trump in the US elections is the talk of the day on Chinese social media. On e-commerce platform Taobao, Trump-related merchandise is ubiquitous, with merchants selling anything from Trump masks, to Trump toilet paper or sweatshirts. But on November 9, all Trump-related products led to an error message on the Taobao desktop version, making them unavailable for purchase.

trump-merchandise

When searching for Trump merchandise on China’s e-commerce Taobao, there are many options available. A Trump “Make America Great Again” t-shirt is sold for 59 RMB (±8.6 US$), while a Trump mask is priced at 66 RMB (±9.7 US$). Some Trump toilet paper was sold for 228 RMB (±33 US$).

trumptshirts

toilet

But while searching for any other non-Trump-related product on Taobao does not give any problems, all Trump products gave an ‘error’ message upon clicking them in the late evening and night of November 9/10 (Beijing time).

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trumpmasks

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The error page upon clicking any Trump merchandise on Taobao.

Various English-language media outlets reported earlier that China’s censors issued advance orders to media outlets to restrict coverage of the U.S. democratic contest.

According to South China Morning Post, Chinese websites, news outlets and TV networks were told not to provide any live coverage or broadcasts of the election, and to avoid “excessive” reporting of the story. It is yet unclear if Taobao’s Trump merchandise was under similar censorship regulations.

Earlier today, a Weibo blogger posted that a factory in Zhejiang producing rubber Trump masks, as the one featured in this article, had “crazy orders” with many bulk buyers, mostly from outside China. The blogger also stated that Trump-related merchandise on e-commerce giant Alibaba had 11 pages of products, while Hillary-related products only counted 3 pages.

For now, those who want to buy a Trump mask on Taobao are out of luck – virtually all results for purchasing are blocked. On the mobile version of the e-commerce platform, some might still be able to buy a Trump mask, if they just cannot get enough of the most talked-about person of the day.

Update November 10: not just Trump merchandise, but also Hillary Clinton masks and other products have been blocked on Taobao on the election day.

Update November 10: the blockages seem to have cleared up now, so it might have been an election-day-only measurement. Who ever wants to buy a Trump mask on Taobao can do so here.

– By Manya Koetse
Follow on Twitter or Like on Facebook

Additional research by China blogger @edsander.

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ed Sander

    November 10, 2016 at 11:07 am

    One day later the products are available again, making this a strange case.

    Yesterday all of the ‘fun’ products like masks and T-shirts were not available, while serious Trump products like his books were. This pointed at a very selective temporary censoring of products.

    It also doesn’t seem like they wanted to screen out the more offensive products since the Trump toilet paper is also available again.

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China Marketing & Advertising

Secret Tests Expose That Beijing’s Five-Star Luxury Hotels Do Not Change Bed Sheets

Secret tests run by a review organization have exposed how Beijing’s top-notch hotels do not change their bed sheets or clean their toilet seats. The report has caused a great commotion on Chinese social media, where it has become the talk of the day.

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Secret tests run by a review organization have exposed how Beijing’s top-notch hotels do not change their bed sheets or clean their toilet seats. The report has caused great commotion on Chinese social media, where it has become the talk of the day.

An online report by an assessment organization has exposed how some of Beijing’s 5-star luxury hotels do not change their bed sheets or clean the toilet seats after guests check out. The tests concern the renowned hotel chains Hilton, the W, Intercontinental, Marriot, and Shangri-La.

The tests were done by a company named ‘Better Choice, Better Life’ (literally ‘Blueberry Testing’ 蓝莓评测), which has over 60,500 followers on their Weibo account.

In a video released online on September 4, the research team says:

“As a review organization, we’ve found some unexpected results in a test which triggers a horrible assumption. We’ve seen messes of different industries in our tests. However, none of them have shocked us like this. The test result may lead to serious debate. But everyone deserves the truth, which is why we decided to release it.”

The video shows how members of the team check into several top hotels and mark their room’s sheets, quilt covers, toilets, and bathtubs with fluorescence stamps that can only be detected through a UV torch. These stamps will be removed when their surface is washed or gently wiped.

After messing up the room a bit, they then check out the next day and let other team members book exactly the same room after them to see if the bed linens and other room items are properly cleaned after guests leave.

The team found that in most cases, the pillow case, bed sheets, and/or quilt covers still had the same stamps on them, meaning that their linens were not only unwashed, but also were not changed at all.

They also found their marks had not been wiped off the toilet covers and toilet seats – which were not even touched after the check-out of the previous guests. They also found that the drinking glasses in the bathroom were left untouched by the hotel cleaners.

The team concluded that Beijing’s Hilton, Sanlitun Intercontinental, and W Hotel did not change their bed sheets after previous guests had departed and new guests had arrived. The JW Marriott Beijing did change the bed sheets and quilt cover, but not the pillow cases. Shangri-La changed all the bed linen except for one pillow case.

None of the hotels were found to have cleaned the bathtubs, nor the toilets, and all of them greatly lacked in their hygiene and service quality.

The standard room prices for the hotels vary between approximately US$200 and US$400 per night; all are over 2000 RMB.

Under hashtags such as “5-Star Hotels Do Not Change Their Bed Sheets” (#五星酒店不换床单#), the report has become a big topic of debate on Chinese social media.

“Knowing they don’t even change the water glasses, are you still willing to stay at these ‘luxurious’ hotels?”, some netizens wondered.

“We should set up an independent network of hotel guests,” one commenter suggested: “And leave hidden marks for each other so the next guest can check whether or not the room is clean.”

Some people write that they are not surprised by the outcome of the tests, saying they often bring their own sheets or pillows to hotels for this reason.

In response to the controversy, the Beijing Tourism Association held an official meeting with the management of the concerning hotels on the morning of September 5.

In an announcement on Weibo, they stated that they asked the hotels for clarification about the controversy, and required them to face up to their company’s problems and to actively solve these issues and improve their quality of service.

The Beijing Tourism Association also stated that they would increase the supervision of these hotels, and would implement a strict inspection of their hygiene standards and service quality.

By Miranda Barnes & Manya Koetse

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Marketing & Advertising

“It’s All Staged!” Cosplayer Viral Story Turns Out To Be Marketing Stunt

The story of a dressed-up ‘cosplay’ girl being scolded by an elderly woman on the Beijing subway went viral over the past week. It now turns out the scene was staged for marketing purposes. It’s not the first time a viral video turns out to be a publicity stunt.

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The story of a dressed-up ‘cosplay’ girl being scolded by an elderly woman on the Beijing subway went viral on Chinese social media over the past week. It now turns out the scene was staged for marketing purposes. This is not the first time a viral video turns out to be a publicity stunt.

It is often photos and videos of everyday scenes on public transport or on the streets that go viral on Chinese media. A pregnant woman making a fuss in the subway, a loud fight between two girls, or two men riding bumper cars on a traffic lane.

This week, a video of a young woman being scolded on the Beijing subway for wearing a cosplay outfit went viral on Chinese social media.

The video, allegedly secretly filmed by a bystander, was shared by Tencent News and other Chinese media platforms. It shows an older woman on Beijing’s Line 10 telling the girl off, saying it is people like her who are a bad influence to her grandchildren, that she is neglecting her duties, and wearing clothes that are too revealing.

The story attracted much attention on social media, where many netizens sided with the young woman and praised her for responding coolly although the woman was attacking her.

Now, the story has taken a sharp turn as it turns out that the whole scene was staged with the purpose of generating more attention for the ad behind the older lady, several sources write.

The company promoted in the ad is Womai.com, a
healthy food shopping website in China that delivers to one’s door. In the ad, the website promotes its ‘coolness’; it says it is not just ‘cool’ (or ‘cold’) because it allows shoppers to stay inside with the air conditioning on, but also because it makes ‘cold jokes’ (冷笑话 corny jokes) on its ad posters.

This is not the first time a viral story turns out to be staged. In 2015, photos of a ‘romantic proposal’ made its rounds on social media when a young man asked his pregnant girlfriend to marry him using over 50 packs of diapers in the shape of a giant heart. One bag of diapers carried a diamond ring inside. It was later said the scene was sponsored by Libero Diapers.

In 2016, a video showing a woman making a scene in a hospital after having to pay nearly $700 to see a doctor also went viral on Weibo. It prompted outrage on Chinese social media about malpractices in Chinese hospitals, where patients often get scammed by hospital scalpers.

Later, netizens discussed how the video probably was a marketing stunt for Yihu365, an online platform that offers its services in making hospital appointments.

Viral marketing stunts also often occur outside of China. In a smart campaign, Range Rover parked one of its cars outside of Harrods in the UK in 2016, spray painted with the words “Cheater” and “Hope she was worth it.” As photos of the car were immediately shared by people walking by on social media, the story became bigger and bigger, with even BBC reporting about it.

With dozens of everyday scenes going viral on Chinese social media every day, ‘fake virals’ have become a business opportunity for advertising companies. But because of China’s critical social media users, fake virals hardly ever last long. But by the time it goes viral, its marketing purpose has already been fulfilled.

By Manya Koetse

Thanks to Miranda Zhou Barnes.

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©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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