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China’s Booming Cyberstar Economy & Papi Jiang

How far would a Chinese company go to connect their brand to Papi Jiang, China’s rising Weibo superstar? Today’s ad auction showed that people are willing to pay millions to get their ad in one of the popular videos by Papi, who has become China’s national sweetheart. The staggering winning bid makes it clear: China’s ‘cyberstar economy’ is alive and kicking.

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How far would a Chinese company go to connect their brand to Papi Jiang, China’s rising Weibo superstar? Today’s ad auction showed that people are willing to pay millions to get their ad in one of the popular videos by Papi, who has become China’s national sweetheart. The staggering winning bid makes it clear: China’s ‘cyberstar economy’ is alive and kicking.

On April 21, a video ad auction was held in Beijing, in which bidders went as high as 22 million RMB (3,4 million US$) to get Papi Jiang (papi酱) to promote their brand.

Straight to the Millions

The auction starting price was 217.000 RMB (33.555 US$) and increased with 100.000 RMB (15.463 US$) for every bid, Sohu Business reports. Just moments after the auction had started, bidding prices went straight to 10 million (1,5 million US$).

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Ultimately, Papi’s video ad auction was won by makeup company Lili & Beauty (丽人丽妆) for 22 million yuan (3,4 million US$). Lili & Beauty is an e-commerce company that represents a variety of cosmetic brands like Shu Uemura, Max Factor and Maybelline.

The Year of Papi Jiang

Papi Jiang is famous for her online humorous videos that make fun of everyday societal issues. This year marked her rise to fame, as she gained millions of followers on her Weibo account – just a few months after she uploaded her first video. She also secured a 1,200,000 RMB (±184,000 US$) investment.

One of papi’s videos where she makes fun of girls that act like dramaqueens.

Papi made headlines earlier this week when her videos were taken offline by censors for containing ‘foul language’. The videos will be allowed back online when Papi takes out the swear words, which she promised she would. The government reprimand has seemingly only boosted her popularity.
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“Can I ask what this is all about?” 

News of the auction soon made its rounds on Weibo under the hashtag of ‘extremely expensive Papi Jiang ad’ (#papi酱天价广告#).

Although many netizens think it is ‘awesome’ that Papi was able to raise such a staggering amount, some were also critical: “Can I ask what this is all about?” one netizen said: “Aren’t there many poor people in the rural areas that could really use this money?”

Others believe that the ‘hot online celebrity’ phenomenon is becoming too hyped, as brands would do anything to get a popular Weibo celebrity mention their name.

Cyberstar Economy

Today’s auction shows that ‘online celebrity marketing’ or ‘cyberstar economy’ is alive and kicking in China, where self-made celebrities are mushrooming all over the internet. China’s so-called ‘Big V’s’ – popular microbloggers who have a ‘v’ behind their name as their accounts have been verified by Weibo or Tencent – are worth big money. These social media celebrities vary from comedians to fashion bloggers or make-up stylists. Some Chinese online celebrities have just become famous because they blog a lot or have an extraordinary appearance.

These online stars offer great marketing potential for brands because they have a huge following, much influence, and often the right target audiences.

Papi’s auction bidding is an extreme case of how much brands are willing to offer to be promoted by celebrities, but prices are not always this transparent – nor is the product marketing. A recent example is how on March 26, China’s famous singer, actress and presenter Xie Na (also known as ‘Nana’), posted a dressing room picture on her Weibo account.

xiena

With more than 83 million fans, Xiena is one of Weibo’s top celebrities. In her photo (pictured above) you can spot ‘lung support tablets’ on her dressing table, which are medicine that supposedly counter the negative effects of air pollution.

Xie Na’s picture and the lung support brand then became a trending topic on Weibo; the picture was shared almost 10,000 times, got 31.000 likes and 11210 comments, with many netizens wanting to purchase the tablets while praising Xiena for taking such good care of her health. Who knows how much the lung tablet brand paid Xie Na to put their medicine on her table?

lungsupport

For some celebrities, their prices are less mysterious. Stylist and Weibo ‘Big V’ (popular microblogger) make-up artist Perry (Xiao P Laoshi) has over 36 million fans on his Weibo page, and it will cost 76.000 RMB (±11,750 US$) for him to mention your brand. These deals can be easily made through Chinese online media buying companies. Perry’s prices are considered reasonably low, since the general price for brand promotion by a ‘Big V’ is set around 100.000 RMB (±15,460 US$).

bigv

“Not that expensive”

As for today’s action – Papi Jiang’s business partner stated that the money raised with the auction will be donated to Beijing’s Central Academy of Drama (中央戏剧学院), the academy that Papi graduated from.

This decision caused some commotion on Weibo, where many netizens think she should have given the money to the poor instead of to the academy. Amongst the commenters, there are also many who defend Papi, saying she can do whatever she wants with her money, as it is a reward for her huge success.

According to Yangcheng Evening news, the successful bidder later stated that they felt their 22-million-video-ad was “not that expensive.”

– By Manya Koetse

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

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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, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. winona

    May 14, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    she is living the dream. go her!

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China Celebs

Alleged Accuser in Richard Liu Case: “This Has Nothing to Do with Me”

The woman became an overnight celebrity when dozens of her private photos went viral in connection to the Richard Liu case.

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Jiang Pingting became an overnight celebrity when dozens of her glamorous private photos went viral on Weibo, with strong rumors suggesting she was the woman accusing Chinese billionaire businessman Richard Liu of rape. She has now come forward denying these claims.

Ever since news has come out on the brief arrest of JD.com CEO Richard Liu (刘强东) in Minneapolis last weekend, the mug shot and arrest of the Chinese tech mogul have been a major topic of discussion on Chinese social media.

Liu was arrested on August 31st in connection to a suspected rape, after he had dinner with a group of people at a Japanese restaurant during his business trip in the USA.

Photos of the night show that a woman is seated next to Liu, with Chinese netizens and media alleging that this woman is the Chinese exchange student who accused Liu of assaulting her after the banquet.

Footage show Liu and a female sitting next to him on the night of his brief arrest.

Although Liu was released without charges the next day (status: “released pending complaint”) with JD.com officially stating that all accusations were “false,” the case continued to ignite rumors. Many netizens sided with Liu and claimed that he had been “trapped.”

One particularly strong rumor concerned the identity of the female student accusing Liu, with dozens of photos of a young, curvy woman going viral in connection to this case.

One person spreading photos of the supposed accuser is the internet celebrity Luo Yufeng (@罗玉凤), better known as Sister Feng, who has a fanbase of more than 9 million Weibo users.

“Many private photos have been exposed of the woman involved in the Richard Liu case,” she posted: “She has a big bosom and she looks hot.”

The many photos making their rounds on Chinese social media for the past days show the woman going out for dinners, relaxing on the beach, or posing while golfing.

The photos soon became popular on Weibo, with people comparing the woman with Richard Liu’s wife Zhang Zetian (章泽天).

Left: Liu’s wife Zhang and right the woman who allegedly accused Liu.

Rather than discussing the alleged rape case, many netizens seemed more concerned with the appearance and life-style of the woman, and how her body shape compares to Liu’s wife.

The female, a yoga fanatic named Jiang Pingting (蒋娉婷), became an overnight celebrity.

But now, days after her name and photos were first connected to the case, she has issued a statement on her Weibo account saying:

I am Jiang Pinting! The fact that several large media websites, without verifying, have distributed my personal details and photos assuming I am the female involved in the Richard Liu Minneapolis arrest case, has greatly impacted my reputation and has invaded on my personality rights.”

She further states that her personal life has been turned upside down by the incident.

Since 2010, Jiang writes, she has been residing in Singapore and only recently returned to mainland China. Jiang states:

I do not know Richard Liu at all. We have never met. I’ve not even been to the US recently. This incident has absolutely no connection to me.”

It is not clear why Jiang was brought in connection with the case in the first place.

Some people are critical as to why Jiang only responded to the rumors days after they first went viral. “You first waited to become famous before refuting the rumors,” one person wrote.

“I still think you’re hot,” some among thousands of commenters wrote.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Celebs

Richard Liu’s Minnesota Mug Shots Go Viral on Weibo

The tech mogul’s arrest is a major topic of discussion, many netizens side with Richard Liu.

Gabi Verberg

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The arrest of JD.com CEO Richard Liu, of China’s most powerful tech moguls, has made international headlines and is dominating trending topics lists on Chinese social media.

With over 370 million reads, the hashtag ‘Liu Qiandong Mugshot’ (#刘强东被捕照片#) is a major hot topic on Weibo this week.

On Friday night, August 31, Richard Liu (刘强东), was arrested in Minneapolis for alleged sexual misconduct case involving a university student.

Liu is the founder, chairman, and executive of JD.com (京东). With more than 300 million active users, it is China’s second-largest e-commerce firm after Alibaba.

According to Forbes, Liu has a net worth of approximately $7.9 billion, making him the 18th wealthiest person in China in 2017.

A day after his arrest, Liu was reportedly released without bail. John Elder, the spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department, stated they are treating the case as an active investigation, but that no formal complaint was filed.

A statement released on JD.com’s official Weibo account on September 2nd said:

During the US business activities, Mr. Liu Qiangdong has been falsely accused. The local police investigation has found no substance to the claim and Liu will continue his business activities as originally planned.”

As Liu’s mugshot has gone viral around the world, he has become a number one topic of conversation. Despite the major international attention for the billionaire’s arrest, many Chinese netizens do not believe Liu is guilty.

“I feel like brother Liu has been set up! I don’t believe any of it!”, one Weibo comment said, receiving nearly three million likes.

“I don’t buy it! My first reaction is; somebody who can control such a big company surely can control his lower body. I think it is more likely that he has been set up,” another typical comment read.

As online discussions run wild, there are strong online rumors on who the woman is who allegedly ‘falsely’ accused Liu for sexual misconduct, with netizens spreading photos of the supposed “instigator.”

It is not the first time Liu’s name comes up in an incident involving sexual misconduct. In 2015, the billionaire tried to distance himself from a sexual assault case that had taken place during a party in his penthouse in Australia.

The New York Times reports that a guest at his party, named Longwei Xu (徐龙威), was found guilty for having sex with a woman without her consent. Liu was not charged in the case, but the tech mogul still tried to have his name removed from the official documents regarding the matter.

By Gabi Verberg

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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