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Viral Merchants Bank Commercial Hits Close to Home for Chinese Students Abroad

A viral commercial titled ‘The World is No Bigger than a Tomato Omelette’ is making Chinese students tear up.

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A Merchants Bank viral campaign titled ‘The World is No Bigger than a Tomato Omelette’ is triggering many reactions on Chinese social media. While the commercial moves many people to tears, others find it sends out the wrong message.

Over the past two days, a commercial by China Merchants Bank (招商银行) titled ‘The world is no bigger than a fried tomato omelette’ (“世界再大,大不过一盘番茄炒蛋”) has gone viral on Chinese social media. While the ad campaign is a tearjerker for many, some find it a source of annoyance.

The 4-minute commercial revolves around Chinese exchange student Yang who is in his first week in America and has to cook a Chinese dish for a potluck party.

 

“Your world means the world to us.”

 

Worried that he does not know how make the classic Chinese xīhóngshì chǎo jīdàn dish (西红柿炒鸡蛋 generally: ‘scrambled eggs with tomatoes’), Yang calls up his mother in China for help.

When he finds his mother’s explanation on how to prepare the dish not clear enough, the young man gets frustrated. Just as he is about to panic, his phone beeps that there is an incoming WeChat message; it is his mother on a video showing her son how to make fried tomato and eggs from her kitchen.

Thanks to his mother’s help, Yuan shows up at the party with a tasty dish. One of the party’s attendants asks Yuan about China and how much the time difference with America is.

The moment Yang replies “12 hours,” he realizes that he asked his mother for help in the middle of the night – and that she got up for him without her ever complaining about it.

Touched that his parents would wake up in the dark of the night to make a video tutorial for him, he messages his mother to say “thank you.”

The commercial ends with an image of Yang’s parents in their kitchen in China, texting: “We want to stand by your side, but we want even more for you to have the world. Your world means the world to us” (“你的世界大于全世界”).

The commercial promotes the Merchants Bank’s special Visa credit card for exchange students.

VIEW THE VIDEO HERE:

The commercial, that went trending on Weibo and Wechat today, touched many people to tears. Moved by these parents’ unconditional love for their child, people shared their own stories of studying abroad and receiving help from their parents.

 

“An idiot who doesn’t sympathize with his parents and does not even care about the time difference.”

 

Many other people, though, say the commercial sends out the wrong message, and that Chinese parents today are raising children who are not independent enough.

A Weibo user nicknamed Wuyue (@五岳散人) writes:

“That sucker ad by the Merchants Bank is really powerful alright. He doesn’t know how to stir-fry tomatoes and eggs, and despite the fact that it is broad daylight there, he doesn’t even know it’s nighttime in China and calls his mummy for help. He then, particularly proud, tells his friends ‘I am from China.’ What does that mean? It means his mother raised a boy who cannot even cook for himself. An idiot who doesn’t sympathize with his parents and does not even care about the time difference.”

Other people agree, saying: “You can’t disturb your sleeping parents to make tomato omelette,” or: “Don’t we have Baidu [search engine] for this?”

Some commenters say they find the commercial “infuriating,” stating that people who do not know how to make tomato and eggs should not even qualify to study abroad.

The credit card promoted in the ad campaign by China Merchants Bank.

There are also commenters who simply wonder what the commercial has to do with the credit card it promotes.

 

“True portrayal of relations between Chinese exchange students and their parents.”

 

An author at news platform 36kr.com disagrees with the critics, writing: “As someone who has been an exchange student before, this commercial made me cry when I saw it late at night.”

“Yesterday night, this commercial started going viral on WeChat and my friends who are studying abroad sent it to me with teary emoticons.”

The 36kr author says that some of her friends were crying their eyes out over the ad:

“This ad is a true portrayal of the relations between exchange students and their parents. The tomato and eggs dish is just an example, but behind it you’ll find the far-reaching love of parents towards their children that goes beyond any time-difference.”

Many on Weibo agree with this stance, writing: “Over the past few days, every single chat group for exchange students has been posting this video. I finally watched it. Tears were streaming down my face.”

About the connection to the credit card product, the author of 36kr.com writes: “The most important purpose [of this ad] is to enhance the brand image of the China Merchants Bank. Tying the brand together with this scene, we have emotional resonance and thus it creates more trust in the brand, associating the Merchants Bank with ‘warmth,’ ‘care,’ and ‘love.'”

 

“China Merchants Bank is taking a route that is more common in Thailand, where ‘sadvertising’ is a well-known phenomenon.”

 

By choosing to promote their latest credit card in this way, the China Merchants Bank is taking a route that is more common in Thailand, where ‘sadvertising’ is a well-known phenomenon.

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 similar to short movies.

They are called ‘sadvertising’ because their touching narratives, strong actors, qualitative film work and emotive music make it difficult not to tear up while watching.

‘The World is No Bigger than a Tomato Omelette’ was not produced by a Thai director, however. Its director is Xi Ran (席然), a young creative filmmaker whose work includes movies such as I Love You to Love Me (爱在一起).

According to this article on marketing platform Meihua.info, Xi Ran has had previous successes in making commercials.

 

“The commercial shows the great lengths to which Chinese parents will go to support their children in their education and endeavours – no matter where in the world they are.”

 

Despite all criticism, the commercial could be called a great success as it has become the talk of the day in many chat groups – mainly relating to those students who are studying abroad.

According to Quartz, Chinese students are studying abroad in record numbers. In 2015 alone, more than half a million Chinese headed overseas to study.

But the commercial does not just resonate with those outside of China. Many students who go to university within China also have to travel long hours to see their parents, and often do not have the means or time to see their family.

Children from China’s younger generations, mostly the post-90s generation, are often the pride of their family for being the first person to go to university or to study abroad.

They generally are used to receive a lot of attention and (financial) help from their family. This also shows in the ‘tents of love’ phenomenon, where parents will accompany their children when they first go to college and sleep in tents outside the campus.

The viral ‘tomato and eggs’ commercial also shows, in its own way, the great lengths to which Chinese parents will go to make sure they can support their children in their education and endeavours – no matter where in the world they are.

“I saw it. I cried,” many commenters simply wrote.

“This commercial annoyed me,” one person says: “Not because of the story, but because it made me realize I actually also do not know how to make tomato omelette.”

Also wondering about the right way to make this comfort dish now? Here’s a link for you – so you don’t have to call up your parents in the middle of the night.

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

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

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Insight

The Huawei Case Sparks Anti-American, “Support Huawei” Sentiments on Weibo

“Ever since all the news came out on Meng Wanzhou’s arrest I feel like this is Cold War 2.0,” some commenters say.

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(original image via NDTV.com)

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The latest developments in the Huawei case are a major topic of discussion on Chinese social media, sparking anti-American sentiments, along with hundreds of netizens calling for the support of Huawei.

The case involving Huawei and Meng Wanzhou is making international headlines today, now that the US Justice Department has officially filed charges against Chinese smartphone maker Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile.

Among many other things, US prosecutors allege that Huawei launched a formal policy in which bonuses were offered to employees who succeeded in stealing confidential information from competitors (full papers here, page 19).

The Department also filed criminal charges against Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟), who is the chief financial officer of Huawei and the daughter of the company’s founder Ren Zhengfei (任正非). The US is seeking the extradition of Meng Wanzhou from Canada.

The indicment papers as being shared on Weibo.

Meng was detained in Canada on December 1st of 2018 during transit at the Vancouver airport at the request of United States officials. She was released on bail on December 11. Meng’s next court date is set for February 6, 2019, in Vancouver.

 

“To the Chinese who proclaim that the American lawsuit against Huawei makes sense, where’s your conscience?”

 

Huawei responded to the accusations in state media on Tuesday, saying they were “very disappointed” about the charges, and denying that Huawei, nor its affiliates, had committed violations of US law.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the US to revoke its charges against Meng and to “stop the unreasonable suppression of Chinese companies, including Huawei, and to treat Chinese enterprises objectively and fairly.”

Meanwhile, on Chinese social media platform Weibo, the hashtag “Huawei responds to US accusations” (#华为回应美国指控#) received some 1,5 million views on Tuesday.

Among hundreds of comments, many netizens express their apparent belief that the United States is using the judicial system in a battle that is actually politically motivated, and that China’s rise as a competing technological power plays a major role in this issue.

“America has no confidence in its own technological power anymore, and has come to a point of such weakness that China’s technological strength is frightening to them,” one commenter named ‘Battle Wolf Wang Jie’ (@战狼-王杰) said.

“The goal of the US clearly is to suppress Huawei and its 5G technology, it is a fight over leadership,” one commenter wrote.

One popular Weibo tech blogging account (@科技阿宽) described the US as “a cornered dog jumping over a wall” (“狗急跳墙”), a Chinese idiom for describing desperate people resorting to desperate measures. This idiom was also used by other Weibo users commenting on the Huawei issue.

“Ever since all the news came out on the Meng Wanzhou arrest I feel like this is Cold War 2.0,” a Weibo user named Wei Zhong (@卫中) wrote about the issue: “This arms race in the field of technology can’t be avoided, and it will spread to other fields, posing a challenge to America’s leading position.”

But there are also commenters who want to know more about whether there are reasonable grounds to believe Huawei and Meng actually committed a crime: “So did they, or didn’t they?”

“Huawei needs to operate in accordance with international laws, otherwise there will be no end to the trouble,” some said, with others adding: “If they did nothing wrong, they shouldn’t be afraid to face the Americans.”

The editor-in-chief of the Chinese and English Global Times, Hu Xijin (胡锡进), called out those who suggested that the US might have sound legal grounds for the charges, writing on Weibo: “To the Chinese who proclaim today that the American lawsuit against Huawei makes sense, where’s your conscience? Have your brains been eaten by the dogs?”

 

“Was the Canadian Ambassador sacked for speaking the truth?”

 

The Huawei case news story has been developing and has been a topic of discussion ever since Meng’s arrest in December. A social media post issued by Meng shortly after her arrest became one of the biggest trending topics on Weibo of 2018.

The news that former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was detained in Beijing on December 10th of 2018 also generated online discussions on the Huawei issue, with many linking his arrest to Meng’s case.

According to many, the detainment of Meng in Canada is linked to the detainment of Kovrig in Beijing.

Earlier this week, the dismissal of the Canadian ambassador to China, John McCallum, also became big news.

McCallum’s exit was preceded by his different interview comments on the Meng Wanzhou case. He told Chinese-language journalists that Meng had “strong arguments that she can make before a judge,” and reportedly told The Star‘s Joanna Chiu that it would be “great” if the US could drop the request for Meng’s extradition.

On social media, news of McCallum’s dismissal was shared hundreds of times this week. In response to the case, Chinese columnist Sun Bo published an article titled “Was the Canadian Ambassador sacked for Speaking the Truth?” in The Observer (观察者). On Weibo, similar attitudes are expressed, with many arguing that McCallum was punished for simply “expressing his thoughts.”

Some netizens argued that McCallum had been “set up” by the interviewer and that he had said nothing wrong. One Weibo user simply argued: “If America would no longer request Meng’s extradition, then Canada would not need to detain Meng and would not need to become hostile with China, which would also be better for Canada.”

A recurring sentiment expressed by netizens on the issue was that McCallum’s dismissal clashed with Canada’s “so-called freedom of speech,” although there are also other voices stating: “When an ambassador for the government publicly issues their own personal views as they like, they do need to step down.”

 

“He talked about how we should support Huawei, but sent it from his iPhone.”

 

Amid all discussions on Weibo (where some comment threads jumped from having some hundreds comments to “no comments” and then reopened with some hundred comments again), the support for Huawei is one sentiment that stands out.

“I will stand by Huawei,” many commenters write across various threads.

“I support Huawei! America and Canada need to set Meng free!”

Others call for a boycott on Apple and American products, urging Chinese netizens to purchase Huawei instead.

There are also some, however, who point out there is some hypocrisy behind some of these statements: “I just saw a ‘Huawei defender,'”, popular tech blogger ‘Keji Xinyi’ (@科技新一) writes: “He was talking about how we should support the made-in-China Huawei brand, and that Huawei is China’s pride, that Huawei will astonish the world. Then I saw his Weibo post was sent from an iPhone.”

Others joke around: “I support Huawei! I use the Honor 7 [device] by Huawei. I absolutely will not buy an iPhone. It’s too expensive and I can’t afford it.”

Jokes aside, the Huawei case is certainly one that will continue to be discussed in many corners of Chinese social media, with many expressing concern on how this case will develop in the future – as it is not likely to blow over any time soon.

“The law will rule based on evidence,” some commenters write: “So let’s just wait and see.”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know through email.

©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 Marketing & Advertising

China’s Peppa Pig Movie Promo Craze: Understanding the Video and the Trend Behind It

Why Peppa is breaking the Chinese internet.

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The Peppa Pig movie promo is breaking the Chinese internet right now. Our latest Weivlog explains the video, its social context, and its background.

China’s Peppa Pig movie promo video might already be one of Weibo’s biggest trending topics of the year.

To know more about this video and its background, check out our full latest video featured here, explaining the trend in full detail – the original video lacks English subs, so we explain the video from A-Z there.

Check it out, and please subscribe to our YouTube channel if you’d like to see more explanations of Chinese trends through video.

By Manya Koetse 

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

©2019 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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