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Another Tearjerker – The Popularity of Thai Commercials on Weibo

A new Thai commercial by ‘Brand’s World’ company was recently shared on China’s social media. The touching ad campaign shows that starting a business comes with trial and error. It is yet another addition to Thailand’s rich collection of tear jerking and successful commercials that are shared on Weibo and strike a chord with netizens around the world.

Manya Koetse

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A new Thai commercial by ‘Brand’s World’ company was recently shared on China’s social media. The touching ad campaign shows that starting a business comes with trial and error. It is yet another addition to Thailand’s rich collection of tear jerking and successful commercials that are shared on Weibo and strike a chord with netizens around the world.

The Thai film & TV Weibo account Tianfutaiju recently shared a commercial by the Thai nutritive drink company Brand’s.

The 5-minute-commercial shows how a young business man quits his job to start his own noodle shop, following in the footsteps of his father. The moral of the story is that it takes some failure before success can be reached (see featured video).

“This made me cry,” one netizen says. Another person comments that “Thai commercials are like small movies.”

Thai Recipe for Success: “Sadvertising”

Throughout the years, several Thai tearjerking movie-like commercials have become very popular on the internet. These Thai commercials, internationally acclaimed, mainly focus on narrative and plot – and are indeed similar to short movies.

These popular Thai commercials are often themed around family ties and tell stories about personal challenges. They also convey morals about being selfless, valuing life and relationships, and not giving up.

Due to their touching narratives, strong actors, qualitative film work and emotive music, it is difficult not to tear up while watching – which is why Ad Age has called them “sadvertising”.

sadvertising2014 Thai ad ‘Sister’ for National Cancer Institute.

One of the instigators of these kinds of Thai commercials is ad film director Thanonchai Sornsriwichai (ธนญชัย ศรศรีวิชัย), who had huge success with his videos for the Thai Life Insurance.

The biggest hit was the 2014 commercial ‘Unsung Hero‘ (Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok), about a young man who does good things for others every day and gets rewarded in an emotional way. The video was watched 28 million times on YouTube alone. Thai Life Insurance and Sornsriwichai also teamed up with Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok in 2011 for ‘Silence of Love‘, a touching commercial in 2011 about a daughter who gets teased about her deaf-mute father.

unsunghero3Scene from ‘Unsong Hero’

Another moving Thai commercial by Sornsriwichai that went viral worldwide is the 2013 short film ‘Giving’ by mobile company TrueMove, which also focuses on a good-hearted noodle shop owner whose one generous act towards a young boy unexpectedly becomes a changes the destiny of him and his daughter 30 years later.

givingScene from ‘Giving’ (2013) by TrueMove.

By now, these tear jerking commercials have become so popular that internet users now challenge each other not to cry while watching them.

According to Wall Street Journal, one of the reasons why these Thai commercials are so successful is that they often do not focus on the product they are promoting, but are about setting a general mood. Because they are relatively short films, they are also perfect to share on social media.

Popularity of Thai Ads in China

Thai commercials are popular on Sina Weibo, where some accounts are even fully dedicated to sharing them.

Apart from the recent noodleshop business ad, the 2016 Haier ad that shows a monkey moving in with a family is also making its rounds, just as the 2014 Samsung commercial about friendship and hope or the 2015 CP Foods commercial about a runaway daughter and her mother’s love.

runawaydaughterScene from ‘Every Mouthful is Meaningful’.

Both Thai and Chinese traditions put much emphasis on the importance of family relations and filial piety, which is as important in the Buddhist tradition as it is in Confucianism (Kapur-Fic 1998, 390). Although Thailand’s ‘sadvertising’ uses themes that are universal, they especially strike a chord for those valuing respect, obedience, and care for one’s parents or elderly family members.

Although the noodle shop ad is about succeeding in business, it is also about honoring tradition and listening to your parents. A 2014 Thai commercial about donating hair for the National Cancer Institute also emphasizes the importance of family and taking care of each other.

“Thai ads are just so well made,” one Weibo netizen says. “Gosh, I am just overwhelmed with emotions,” another person comments about the Cancer Institute Commercial: “I’ve already seen this before, and still it makes me cry.”

6 Must-watch Thai Tear Jerking Commercials

Here is a selection of popular and acclaimed Thai emotional commercials. Please be warned: if you’re going to watch, get your Kleenex ready.

6 Must-watch Thai Tear Jerking Commercials

Here is a selection of popular and acclaimed Thai emotional commercials. Please be warned: if you’re going to watch, get your Kleenex ready.


Brand’s World Thailand (2016): ‘Children Life Line’.


CP Foods (2015): ‘Every Mouthful is Meaningful’.


Thai Life Insurance ad ‘Unsung Hero’ (2014) / dir. Thanonchai Sornsriwichai.


TrueMove commercial ‘Giving’ (2013) /dir. Thanonchai Sornsriwichai.


Thai Life Insurance ‘Silence of Love’ (2011) / dir.Thanonchai Sornsriwichai.


Thai National Cancer Institute commercial ‘Sister’ (2015)

– By Manya Koetse

References

Kapur-Fic, Alexandra R. 1998. Thailand : Buddhism, Society, and Women. New Delhi : Abhinav Publications,

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

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China Celebs

Female Comedian Yang Li and the Intel Controversy

A decision that backfired: Intel’s act of supposed ‘inclusion’ caused the exclusion of female comedian Yang Li.

Manya Koetse

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“How to look at the boycott of Yang Li?” (#如何看待抵制杨笠#) became a top trending topic on social media site Weibo on Monday after female comedian Yang Li was dismissed as the spokesperson for American tech company Intel over a controversial ad campaign.

On March 18, Intel released an ad on its Weibo account in which Yang says “Intel has a taste [for laptops] that is higher than my taste for men” (“英特尔的眼光太高了,比我挑对象的眼光都高.”)

The ad drew complaints for allegedly insulting men, with some social media users vowing to boycott the tech brand. On Sunday, Intel deleted the ad in question from its social media page and reportedly also removed Yang from her position as their brand ambassador.

The commotion over the ad had more to do with Chinese comedian Yang Li (杨笠) than with the specific lines that were featured in it.

Yang Li is controversial for her jokes mocking men (“men are adorable, but mysterious. After all, they can look so average and yet be so full of confidence“), with some blaming her for being “sexist” and “promoting hatred against all men.”

Since she appeared on the stand-up comedy TV competition Rock and Roast (脱口秀大会) last year, she was nicknamed the the “punchline queen” and became one of the more influential comedians in present-day China. Yang now has nearly 1,5 million fans on Weibo (@-杨笠-).

Yang Li’s bold jokes and sharp way of talking about gender roles and differences between men and women in Chinese society is one of the main reasons she became so famous. Intel surely knew this when asking Yang to be their brand ambassador.

In light of the controversy, the fact that Intel was so quick to remove Yang also triggered criticism. Some (male) netizens felt that Intel, a company that sells laptops, could not be represented by a woman who makes fun of men, while these men are a supposed target audience for Intel products.

But after Yang was removed, many (female) netizens also felt offended, suggesting that in the 21st century, Intel couldn’t possibly believe that their products were mainly intended for men (“以男性用户为主”)? Wasn’t their female customer base just as important?

According to online reports, Intel responded by saying: “We noted that the content [we] spread relating to Yang Li caused controversy, and this is not what we had anticipated. We place great importance on diversity and inclusion. We fully recognize and value the diverse world we live in, and are committed to working with partners from all walks of life to create an inclusive workplace and social environment.”

However, Intel’s decision backfired, as many wondered why having Yang as their brand ambassador would not go hand in hand with ‘promoting an inclusive social environment.’

“Who are you being ‘inclusive’ too? Common ‘confident’ men?”, one person wrote, with others saying: “Why can so many beauty and cosmetic brands be represented by male idols and celebrities? I loathe these double standards.”

“As a Chinese guy, I really think Yang Li is funny. I didn’t realize Chinese men had such a lack of humor!” another Weibo user writes.

There are also people raising the issue of Yang’s position and how people are confusing her performative work with her actual character. One popular law blogger wrote: “Really, boycotting Yang Li is meaningless. Stand-up comedy is a performance, just as the roles people play in a TV drama.”

Just a month ago, another Chinese comedian also came under fire for his work as a brand ambassador for female underwear brand Ubras.

It is extremely common in China for celebrities to be brand ambassadors; virtually every big celebrity is tied to one or more brands. Signing male celebrities to promote female-targeted products is also a popular trend (Li 2020). Apparently, there is still a long way to go when the tables are turned – especially when it is about female celebrities with a sharp tongue.

By Manya Koetse

Li, Xiaomeng. 2020. “How powerful is the female gaze? The implication of using male celebrities for promoting female cosmetics in China.” Global Media and China, Vol.5 (1), p.55-68.

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©2021 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

Chinese Comedian Li Dan under Fire for Promoting Lingerie Brand with Sexist Slogan

Underwear so good that it can “help women lie to win in the workplace”? Sexist and offensive, according to many Weibo users.

Manya Koetse

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Popular talk show host and comedian Li Dan (李诞) has sparked controversy on Chinese social media this week for a statement he made while promoting female underwear brand Ubras.

The statement was “让女性轻松躺赢职场”, which loosely translates to “make it easy for women to win in the workplace lying down” or “make women win over the workplace without doing anything,” a slogan with which Li Dan seemed to imply that women could use their body and sex to their advantage at work. According to the underwear brand, the idea allegedly was to convey how comfortable their bras are. (The full sentence being “一个让女性躺赢职场的装备”: “equipment that can help women lie to win in the workplace”).

Li Dan immediately triggered anger among Chinese netizens after the controversial content was posted on his Weibo page on February 24. Not only did many people feel that it was inappropriate for a male celebrity to promote female underwear, they also took offense at the statement. What do lingerie and workplace success have to do with each other at all, many people wondered. Others also thought the wording was ambiguous on purpose, and was still meant in a sexist way.

Various state media outlets covered the incident, including the English-language Global Times.

By now, the Ubras underwear brand has issued an apology on Weibo for the “inappropriate wording” in their promotion campaign, and all related content has been removed.

The brand still suggested that the slogan was not meant in a sexist way, writing: “Ubras is a women’s team-oriented brand. We’ve always stressed ‘comfort and wearability as the essence of [our] lingerie, and we’re committed to providing women with close-fitting clothing solutions that are unrestrained and more comfortable so that more women can deal with fatigue in their life and work with a more relaxed state of mind and body.”

Li Dan also wrote an apology on Weibo on February 25, saying his statement was inappropriate. Li Dan has over 9 million followers on his Weibo account.

The objectification of women by brands and media has been getting more attention on Chinese social media lately. Earlier this month, the Spring Festival Gala was criticized for including jokes and sketches that were deemed insensitive to women. Last month, an ad by Purcotton also sparked controversy for showing a woman wiping away her makeup to scare off a male stalker, with many finding the ad sexist and hurtful to women.

 
By Manya Koetse
with contributions by Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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