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China Memes & Viral

How a Boy Duped by Hair Salon Became the 2018 Internet Sensation

The footage of the awkwardly smiling and disillusioned teenager unravelled an endless stream of memes. Little did the teenager know that a few weeks after the incident, he would be the face of advertisement campaigns all over the country.

Gabi Verberg

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What was supposed to be a quick visit to the hairdresser turned into a disaster when the 18-year-old Wu Zhengqiang (吴正强) was presented with a 40,000 yuan ($5795) bill and a bad haircut. For Chinese social media users, the story became a source of countless memes this year.

Looking back at Chinese social media in 2018, one unexpected internet celebrity is at the center of one of the most meme-worthy stories of the year, reaching over 470 million views on Weibo.

It all started earlier this year, when Wu Zhengqiang (吴正强), an 18-year-old teenager, walked into a salon in Hangzhou to get himself a haircut. It looked like it was going to be a great day when he was offered a special hair and skin treatment for “free” – until the bill came.

Before the treatment was finished, the boy was surrounded by several people and was presented with a paper he was asked to sign. Only after the treatment was finished, Wu found out that he had given his approval to a staggering bill of 39,600 yuan ($5756).

Wu, who only makes a little less than 3000 yuan a month ($435) as a real estate agent, was not willing to pay the bill. When the salon employees refused to let him pay 480 yuan ($70), the original price on their price-list, Wu reported the incident to the police. In the end, Wu paid the shop a total of 2500 yuan ($363) instead.

But as time passed, Wu got increasingly annoyed about the whole incident. Not only did he feel robbed of his money, he also found his freshly plucked eyebrows looking even worse than before the treatment. So, he reached out to a local Hangzhou tv station to share his grievances (footage below).

The interview soon attracted the attention on Chinese social media, where most commenters did not focus on the story of the struggling teenager, but instead focused on Wu’s strangely shaved-up hairline, his thick characteristic eyebrows, the disillusion in his eyes, and his nervous smile – it all turned out the be the perfect ingredients for an endless stream of funny memes.

The hashtag “Hairline-boy expressions” received over 470 million views on Weibo, featuring many memes in which people captured feelings such as “I feel terrible wronged,” “Smile gradually disappearing,” “I’m puzzled,” and “Excuse me.”

But the popularity of the teenager reached further than just netizens using his face for memes; Wu soon appeared on several tv-shows including one of China’s most popular variety shows Happy Camp. He also starred in several commercials, making his face well-recognized all over the country.

Also, Wu’s personal Weibo account received thousands of new fans in his rise to fame. At time of writing, his Weibo page reached little over 400,000 followers.

How Wu’s career will further develop is hard to say. However, when Wu is asked what he will do when his popularity has faded away, he coolly answers: “I’ll just work.”

By Gabi Verberg

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

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Gabi Verberg is a Business graduate from the University of Amsterdam who has worked and studied in Shanghai and Beijing. She now lives in Amsterdam and works as a part-time translator, with a particular interest in Chinese modern culture and politics.

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China Marketing & Advertising

When Hotpot Gets Really Hot: Haidilao Customers Shocked by Steamy TV

Haidilao is taking its customer service to a whole new level.

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First published .

Customers dining at a Haidilao hotpot restaurant in Wuhan on January 5th were shocked when the big television screen in the restaurant, usually used for showing Haidilao ads, suddenly showed an X-rated film.

Haidilao is China’s most famous hotpot chain, and is usually known for its excellent service. On busy nights, people stand in line for hours at the Haidilao restaurants, that are always packed full of people enjoying the good food and outstanding hospitality.

The incident, that happened on Saturday afternoon at the restaurant’s Great Ocean mall location, has now made its rounds on Chinese social media after one Haidilao customer shared photos of the embarrassing moment on Weibo. At time of writing, the hashtag “Haidilao TV shows vulgar scene” (#海底捞电视播不雅画面#) has received more than 240 million views.

Waiters at the restaurant were fast to turn off the television. According to some online reports, a reporter visited the restaurant a few hours after the incident happened, and confirmed the television was still turned off at night.

On Sunday, January 6, Haidilao issued a statement in which the restaurant apologized to the customers for the “vulgar content” that was displayed on the television, and that police are investigating the case. Online pornography is banned in China, and spreading X-rated films is illegal.

It is yet unsure how the film ended up on the restaurant’s screen, and whether it was a Haidilao employee who was watching the video and then made a mistake, or that a customer was using IR or Bluetooth on their smartphone and (purposely) connected it to their screen.

The incident has provoked hilarity on social media, where some netizens suggest that the X-rated film perhaps was a “customer demand” and that “Haidilao’s service is beyond expectations,” or that people were “eating and getting hard.”

The incident, as of now, does not seem to negatively affect people’s love for the Haidilao brand. “Please don’t close it down, I still want to eat hotpot,” some netizens comment, while others simply state: “Haidilao, I’m coming!”

(PS Want to know more about steamy hotpots? Check out What’s on Weibo’s sister site Hotpot Ambassador!)

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Memes & Viral

This is “Chinese Santa”: Weibo Launches Lei Bao ‘Santa Claus’ Emoticon for Christmas

The Chinese Santa emoticon is here!

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Image via 鸡冠新闻

On Christmas day, Sina Weibo released a new emoticon in the image of a character named Lei Bao (雷豹, literally ‘thunder leopard’) from the 1990s comedy movie Hail the Judge (九品芝麻官), for his costumes, beard, and impressive eyebrows, that bear some resemblance to Santa Claus.

The emoticon was created by the cartoonist @大绵羊BOBO after social media users started using images of ‘Lei Bao’ to celebrate Christmas on Weibo and WeChat, writing: “It is said that Santa is a man with a white beard wearing a red hat.”

The Chinese actor Xu Jinjiang (@徐锦江/Elvis Tsui), who played this entertaining character in the movie, posted a response on his Weibo saying: “Best wishes to you all from an old man with white beard and wearing on Christmas.”

According to an online announcement issued on the official account of the Sina Weibo content center, the social media website first received permission from the emoticon’s creator and from Xu Jinjiang to launch the image, and then posted a message to look for the copyright owner of the movie.

Later, Tiffany Chen (@向太Tiffany陳嵐), wife of Win’s Entertainment founder Charles Heung Wah-Keung (向华强), the copyright holder of the movie, replied on Weibo and gave permission to launch the emoticon online.

Within less than 24 hours, Weibo managed to solve the copyright issue and to release the emoticon online – just in time for Christmas.

In response to the ‘Chinese Santa’ emoticon, two hashtags became popular on Weibo: “Weibo Santa Claus Emoticon” (#微博圣诞老人表情#) and “Christmas Emoticon of Xu Jinjiang” (#圣诞徐锦江表情包#), attracting some 370 million views in total on Weibo at time of writing.

Thousands of netizens have started to use the new emoticon and joke around with it, with many expressing some Christmas joy over this new ‘Chinese Santa,’ that will undoubtedly make a comeback next year again.

By Wendy Huang

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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