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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

The Zhang Muyi & Akama Miki Controversy: From Teacher to Husband

The hashtag “Zhang Muyi & Akama Miki Getting Married” has over 100 million views on Weibo .

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Six years ago, Chinese pop star Zhang Muyi (24) declared his love for the then 12-year-old Canadian model Miki Akama. Now, their wedding announcement has become a most-discussed topic on Chinese social media – a highly controversial love affair.

The hashtag “Zhang Muyi & Akama Miki Getting Married” has over 100 million views on Weibo today. Some think the relationship between the pop singer and child star is pedophilic, others say it’s fate, but could it be a marketing strategy?

Watch our latest video on this topic here:

By Manya Koetse and Boyu Xiao

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

Six Years after Chinese Pop Star Zhang Muyi (24) Declared Love for 12-Year-Old Miki Akama, They’re Now Tying the Knot

Zhang Muyi became her music coach when Miki Akama was only 8 years old. A decade later, the couple announces their wedding on Weibo.

Boyu Xiao

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Six years after Chinese pop star Zhang Muyi (1987) publicly declared his love for the then 12-year-old music pupil Miki Akama (2000), the two have now announced their wedding on Weibo. Although some say their love is meant-to-be, others say it is a case of pedophilia.

In 2012, it made international headlines when the then 24-year-old Chinese popstar Zhang Muyi publicly declared his love for 12-year-old Canada-born model Miki Akama.

The two met when Zhang Muyi was hired to be Miki’s music coach when she was only 8 years old. In 2012, Muyi wrote on Weibo that he “simply couldn’t wait” for Miki’s next four birthdays to pass, saying he was “counting down each one.”

24-year-old Zhang and 12-year-old Miki in 2012.

At the time, the 12-year-old Miki, whose mother is Chinese/German and whose father is Japanese, had already built up a fanbase of 500,000 followers on Weibo. She replied to Zhang, saying: “Wait until I’m old enough to marry you, and then I’m going to say “I do”.’

Six years later, the now 30-year-old Zhang Muyi (@张木易, 1.4 million followers on Weibo), and the 17-year-old Miki Akama (@张千巽, 1.8 million Weibo fans) have announced their wedding through social media.

On April 4, Zhang wrote on Weibo: “You’ve made me see the most beautiful picture in this world,” adding a photo of a wedding dress. Miki responded to the post, writing: “You make me as beautiful as I can be.”

He later added: “We are indeed preparing for our wedding in all kinds of ways. On September 11, 2018, Miki will turn 18, and it will be ten years since we first met.”

The wedding announcement prompted a wave of reactions. Within 48 hours after the post, Zhang’s photo had received 23,800 responses and nearly 18,000 shares. The couple became one of the most-searched hot topics on social media in China on April 6, and the hashtag “Zhang Muyi and Miki Akama Getting Married” (#张木易张千巽结婚#) received more than 85 million views by Friday.

Although there are many netizens who wish the couple a happy life and find their story romantic, there are also many opponents who think the base of the couple’s relationship is unhealthy.

Weibo account @LoveMatters (an account affiliated to RNW Media) writes:

In most parts of the world, it is hard to give blessing to a relationship between a teacher and their student. The fundamental reason for this is that there is an unequal power relation between teachers and students, which makes it difficult to speak of an equal and truly harmonious connection between two people. Let alone if one of the two persons is underage; this further intensifies the unequal relationship in terms of knowledge and experience. Let’s not even focus on whether or not this is pedophilia.

“We should discuss this from the angle of pedophilia,” one netizen responds: “Because even though it is now disguised as ‘romantic love’, its base still essentially is the relationship between an adult and an 8-year-old girl.”

Many others also say that this a “white-washing of pedophilia,” with some expressing that it makes them “feel like vomiting.”

In response to the controversy, Miki addressed their engagement on Weibo in a lengthy blog post.

In her statement, Miki expresses the shock at the negativity surrounding their wedding engagement, saying that people are “turning this story into something they want it to be,” and that they are downgrading her to a “brainless girl” who has been “living in the dark” all her life.

“I do want to correct something,” she writes:

There are people who are changing our story and are using the fact that I was 8 years old [when we met], and in doing so, are harming us and our loved ones. In their articles, they are deleting the part that really matters: When I was 8, I met Muyi and he was my music teacher; teaching me how to sing and teaching me self-confidence. By the time I was 12, my parents had let me read many books and see many movies, and I had a good education at school. Many of my friends with the same age as me had started reaching puberty and I also started to think about who I liked. I could talk to Muyi about everything. He said that when I would reach the age of dating, he would help me check them out. At the time I did not understand what it meant, and he said he would not let me date bad guys, because it is very easy for people to get hurt. Looking back now, Muyi was also still young at that time, so I told him that if he did not want me to get hurt in the future, he should just marry me. At the time we were just joking around, like playing house. With that uncomplicated promise, I grew up with him by my side. Of course, we will stay pure until marriage.”

Regardless of Miki’s statement, many netizens still hold their own opinions about the matter. Some compare Zhang and Miki to the case of the Taiwan lyricist Li Kuncheng (李坤城) and his wife Lin Jingen (林靖恩, 1996).

The couple became a big topic of discussion in 2015, when the then 58-year-old Li tied the knot with the then 18-year-old Lin.

Li Kuncheng with his 40 year younger fiancee in 2015, image via Asianpopnews.com.

About Zhang and Miki, one commenter writes: “I don’t think this is as serious as pedophilia. The goal of pedophilia is unpure [sex], but they have been together a long time. Zhang has no evil intentions.”

Still, many people express their worries about the situation, wondering “where the parents are” in this, and saying that they do not want their own children to be influenced by this.

By now, some experts and KOL (Key Opinion Leaders) have also gotten involved in the matter. While influential Nanjing police officer Wang Haiding (王海丁, @江宁婆婆) condemns the relationship, famous Chinese sexologist Li Yinhe (@李银河) says it does not meet the criteria of pedophilia.

Renowned Chinese sexologist Li Yinhe answers a question on Weibo about whether this is pedophilia or not.

The three principles of sex that I have proposed are that it is is voluntary, between adults, and in private. If it is in line with these three principles, it is not punishable by law. The law can punish adults who have sex with girls under the age of 14, but if they wait with having sex until they are both adults, then the law cannot control them. (..) Pedophiles are people who sexually assault children. This is clearly not the case here.

Amidst all controversy and analyses, many netizens just jokingly say: “I’m also ready to meet my future spouse – too bad they’re still in kindergarten.”

UPDATE – see our latest video about this topic here:

By Manya Koetse and Boyu Xiao

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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