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China Marketing & Advertising

Stinky Marketing: Chinese Feminine Hygiene Brand Fuyanjie Stirs Controversy with “Dark and Smelly” Ad

Feminine hygiene brand Fuyanjie is caught in a social media storm over its “dark and stinky” marketing campaign.

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‘Insulting’ and ‘unscientific’: Chinese female hygiene brand Fuyanjie has come under fire on social media after suggesting that most men do not want to perform oral sex on women due to the vaginal area being “too dark and too smelly.” Their new product promised a ‘clean, odorless, and pink’ genital area.

The Chinese feminine hygiene brand Fuyanjie (妇炎洁) has caused controversy on Chinese social media this week because of its latest marketing campaign.

The brand recently came out with a new product promotion campaign via its online flagship store. The campaign promoted the pink-colored lotion by claiming that “surveys show that 83% of men from South Korea, Japan, and China are not willing to go down on their partner because it’s too dark and stinky.”

Of course, the brand promised a solution for this alleged widespread bedroom problem. The campaign suggested that Fuyanjie’s lotion will clean the genital area while also lightening darkened vaginal area skin and make it more “pink.”

Besides claiming to make the skin more pink-colored, the campaign also suggested that hyperpigmentation of the genital area can be caused by wearing tight pants and having too much sex.

The brand drew widespread criticism from netizens for being vulgar, insulting to women, and completely unscientific. By Saturday, the hashtag “Fuyanjie Ad Insults Women” (#妇炎洁广告被指侮辱女性#) had received over 130 million views on Weibo.

China Women’s News also condemned Fuyanjie on May 17th for its ad, saying that the brand ruined its own reputation by using women’s bodies for distasteful marketing practices.

Following the controversy, Fuyanjie published an apology on social media on May 20th, saying they offered their sincere apologies for their “inappropriate content” and that they will make sure something like this will not happen again in the future. They also stated that the product in question has now been taken off the shelves.

The “Fuyanjie Apologizes” hashtag (#妇炎洁道歉#) received over 80 million views on Weibo, but most netizens were not buying it, blaming the company for deceiving and discriminating women while also making money off of them.

Fuyanjie is a well-known female product brand in China that has been around since 1998. It is part of the Renhe Pharmaceuticals Group, a pharmaceutical company that specializes in the manufacture and marketing of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and other healthcare products. Besides female intimate hygiene products, Fuyanjie also sells sanitary napkins and other related products.

 

I can’t wash away your past, but I can clean up your future

 

Fuyanjie became a household name in the 1990s and early 2000s, mainly due to its marketing strategy which involved a catchy song by a couple singing a love song (‘Lover’ 知心爱人 by Ren Jing and Fu Disheng) and the slogan: “Washing is Healthier” (“洗洗更健康”).

The brand name Fuyanjie (妇炎洁) literally means ‘cleansing women’s vaginitis,’ with the company claiming that their products kill germs, make you feel fresh and clean, and that using their intimate care products somehow makes you “more healthy” (Li 2016).

In its commercials and ads, Fuyanjie also makes a connection between their products and romantic relationships, showing happy couples buying Fuyanjie products together. In between the lines, the company suggests that using Fuyanjie feminine hygiene products will magically boost your love life.

Nevertheless, it has been pointed out many times before that these kinds of female hygiene products are unnecessary and misleading. Rather than maintaining genital health, some of these intimate washing products actually might disrupt the intimate balance of the vagina and give rise to infections.

One popular Weibo comment said: “Unless your doctor says otherwise, the best way to wash your private parts is with water. And regarding the pigment – it’s normal to have darker skin there.”

It is not the first time Fuyanjie gets caught in controversy. As reported by Jiemian News, the brand also sparked criticism from netizens in 2016 when it used the marketing slogan “I can’t wash away your past, but I can clean up your future” (“我不能洗掉你的过去,但我能洗干净你的未来”) for one of their intimate care products.

Other Chinese brands were previously also criticized for insulting women. Chinese underwear brand Ubras caused controversy online last year after suggesting that its underwear was so good that it helped women “lie to win in the workplace.” Sexist and offensive, according to many Weibo users. An ad by Chinese cotton product brand Purcotton also sparked controversy in 2021 for showing a woman wiping away her makeup to scare off a male stalker, with many finding the ad sexist and hurtful to women.

“They don’t respect women at all,” one Weibo commenter said about Fuyanjie. “They should make their own penises pink instead,” another person suggested.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

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References

Li, Hongmei. 2016. Advertising and Consumer Culture in China. Cambridge: Polity.

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©2022 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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China Digital

From Teacher to Livestreamer: Ecommerce Move is Game Changer for China’s New Oriental Education

New Oriental is going from classroom to e-commerce. Online shopping has never been more educational.

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After laying off 60,000 staff last year, Chinese private education company New Oriental is now offering unexpected new employment opportunities for teachers in the livestream market. Changing e-commerce channels into virtual classrooms, New Oriental has hit the sweet spot with Chinese netizens.

Last year, an unprecedented crackdown on China’s private education sector left many teachers unemployed and worried about their future.

China’s so-called ‘double reduction’ (双减) policy was announced in August of 2021 and targeted “excessive homework” and off-campus tutoring for students in the mandatory nine-year education system. The new regulations imposed strict sanctions on existing private education institutions, forcing them to register as non-profit organizations. Foreign investment in the private tutoring sector was also banned.

One of the companies that was hit particularly hard by this policy is New Oriental (新东方), the largest provider of private educational services in China. Following the crackdown, the company suffered huge losses and dismissed 60,000 employees.

Facing the new regulations, including the ban on for-profit tutoring in subjects on the school curriculum, New Oriental tried to keep its head above water by exploring new markets and ideas within the private education sector. For example, the company launched a special program to train parents on how to tutor their K-12 children themselves. New Oriental called it their “excellent parenting” (优质父母) training class.

Now, nearly a year later, another initiative by New Oriental has become an online hit. Inspired by the success of livestream e-commerce in China, the tutoring company started its own livestream channels. Although New Oriental already introduced its e-commerce business in late 2021, with founder Yu Minhong (俞敏洪) sometimes hosting the sessions himself, it had not been as much of an online success until it recently introduced bilingual livestream e-commerce sessions.

Now, tutors-turned-sellers are teaching viewers English – or sometimes other subjects – while selling (agricultural) products via the Douyin app. Whether they are selling fruit, rice, or even shrimp, New Oriental’s livestream hosts are grabbing every opportunity to teach their viewers a new word or concept, often using a whiteboard to introduce new vocabulary.

Whatever they’re selling, New Oriental’s livestream hosts make sure it’s educational.

One reason for New Oriental becoming a viral hit is because of Dong Yuhui (董宇辉), who is one of the experienced teachers now selling products online. Dong’s bilingual livestreams are particularly successful among viewers because of his enthusiasm, fluency in English, witty jokes, personal stories, and talent for singing.

Teacher Dong recently had a breakthrough moment with his June 10th livestream, during which he sold bags of rice using English. He has since attracted over nine million viewers. While thanking all viewers for their support in a recent Weibo post, Dong described himself as a “ordinary peasant boy.”

Dong Yuhui (董宇辉) is one of the livestreamers that have turned New Oriental’s e-commerce into a viral hit.

Besides Dong, there are also other popular hosts. English teachers Ming Ming, Yoyo, and Dun Dun are all loved by viewers for their charm and wit.

Although various kinds of social e-commerce categories are particularly popular in China, this new phenomenon of combining education + e-commerce + livestream is appreciated by many netizens who like to learn something while being entertained and perhaps also buying something. “I don’t know whether to place an order or to make notes,” has become a popular comment. Another commenter said: “As a kid I took your class, and now I buy your goods.”

Others say that they like the calm way in which the livestreams are presented, posing a stark contrast to other livestreams where the hosts are hyping up products and urging people to buy fast and buy more.

On June 15th, news came out that New Oriental’s stocks had surged by more than 25% following its livestreaming success.

Although some Weibo users predict that this is just a temporary trend, others think that the educational livestream model is here to stay: “New Oriental really started a new business venture, and I’m learning a lot through their livestream sessions.”

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

Image via Weibo

Read related article: China’s Crackdown on Tutoring Schools: Concerned Parents and Teachers on Weibo

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China Books & Literature

Why Is Kindle Leaving China?

Many netizens are not happy over Kindle exiting the Chinese market: “We never know when the online services we use suddenly stop working.”

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Amazon announced on Thursday that it has stopped supplying retailers in China with its Kindle e-readers and that it will discontinue its Kindle e-bookstore in the Chinese market on June 30, 2023.

Amazon announced its Kindle exit in a statement on its official WeChat account, saying it was because of a shift in the strategic focus of its company’s operations.

For Chinese customers who have purchased e-books through Kindle, they will be able to continue downloading them until June 30 of 2024. Customers who would rather return the Kindle devices they bought in 2022 can get a refund.

On Weibo, the hashtags “Kindle Will Be Discontinued in China Next Year” (#Kindle中国明年停止电子书运营#) and “Why Wasn’t Kindle Able to Make It in China?” (#为什么Kindle在中国活不下去#) were hot topics on Thursday and Friday.

Some commenters said they were upset about Kindle being discontinued in China: “Why why why!! I really like Kindle and their e-bookstore, I check for interesting and new books on sale on a weekly basis. Which e-reader and e-bookstore are suitable substitutes?”

“Zhangyue, Hisense, Huawei, Onyx Boox, Tencent, Readmoo,.. there are actually a lot of brands,” one person responded, but some others said they still preferred Kindle.

“What do I do with my Kindle now? Just use it to cover my noodles?”

In 2021, Amazon’s Kindle was among the most popular e-book brands in China. Besides Amazon’s Kindle, China’s most popular e-reader brands include Onyx Boox, iFlytech, Zhangyue, Xiaomi, Hanvon, Tencent, Boyue, Obook, and Sony (see list).

Some commenters wrote that they understand that companies such as Amazon have to make some tough choices after facing pandemic-related setbacks in China, while there were also many netizens who blamed Kindle’s China exit on Chinese consumers illegally downloading pirated books instead of buying them at the Kindle store.

Others said that Kindle e-bookstore prices were often about the same as paper book prices, making the latter more appealing to people who like to read, especially if they also like to make notes in their books. In other words, they say the Kindle e-bookstore is simply too expensive for the Chinese market, where consumers can find many other options, both paper and digital ones.

“It’s not so complicated,” one Weibo user wrote: “It’s all because of market competition reasons. Kindle is facing the impact of Tencent’s influence on the e-reading market.”

Some people are really disappointed that the books they have bought through Kindle will become unavailable to them, and some wondered if this was legal with regards to consumer rights.

One popular economic blogger wrote: “Kindle has now withdrawn [from China]. Many years ago, when different kinds of online storage spaces starting closing down, I learned one thing: never fully trust internet storage services. Your study material, the things you wrote, your video records, you need to back them up. We never know when the online services we use suddenly stop working.”

By Manya Koetse

Image via Weibo

Featured images by Weibo blogger @钟文泽.

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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