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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 Local News

Online Anger over Inappropriate Toast by Dutch Watch Brand Executive at Chinese Dinner Party

This is how NOT to do a toast in Dutch!

Manya Koetse

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Instead of teaching guests at a Chinese dinner party how to say “cheers” in Dutch, this viral video shows how the Chinese are told to join in saying “dikke lul,” the Dutch expression for “big d*ck.”

The Amsterdam-based watch & jewelry brand Rosefield has recently come under fire within the Chinese community in the Netherlands after a video went viral showing Rosefield’s CEO and its Head of Sourcing proposing an unusual toast at a Chinese dinner party.

The video, that was viewed over 173,000 times on Dutch site Dumpert.nl, shows a woman in a white blouse bringing out a toast, saying:

In Dutch, we say ‘ganbei’ or ‘cheers’ in this way, and it would be nice if you all can say the same, we say: ‘dikke lul.‘”

The people at the table then proceed to toast saying “Dikke lul” – which is, in fact, is not the Dutch word for ‘cheers’ but for ‘big dick,’ something that the Chinese people at the table are seemingly not aware of.

On WeChat, Chinese-language newspaper Asian News (华侨新天地) reported about the video and identified the Dutch woman and man at the table as the CPO and CEO of Rosefield Watches, a fast-growing luxury brand that is active in various countries.

Asian News describes the incident as a way of “ridiculing Chinese friends,” and writes it has triggered anger online.

Asian News (华侨新天地) is a Chinese language newspaper founded in 1992. It is mainly distributed in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. Its WeChat account has some 120,200 followers, and the post on the ‘cheers’ video was among its most-well read on WeChat this week.

The blog post noted that ever since the ‘dikke lul’ video has gone viral in the Netherlands, it has become one of the first results showing up when searching for the vulgar expression ‘dikke lul’ on Google.

Although it is not clear where the video was filmed and how it ended up on short video site Dumpert, it is rumored in WeChat groups that it was recorded during the Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair earlier this month, and that the Chinese guests are business relations of the Dutch brand (unconfirmed).

The comment section on the Dumpert site shows that although some Dutch commenters think the video is funny, there are many who find it “vulgar,” “rude,” and “distasteful.”

Although many (overseas) Chinese expressed anger in various WeChat groups – some expressing regret over a Rosefield watch they recently purchased – the Asia News blog does remind readers that we do not know the context of the video, and whether or not there was a certain pretext or common understanding to the joke.

Nevertheless, the blog states, this kind of behavior is not professional and if a company such as Rosefield wants to earn money in China, “it should also respect Chinese culture and people.”

Although there have been ample discussions about the controversial video on Wechat, there are no online discussions about this issue on Weibo at the time of writing.

Over the past year, many foreign brands became a focus for controversy in China.

In November of 2018, Italian fashion house D&G faced consumer outrage and backlash on Chinese social media for a video that was deemed ‘racist’ to China and for insulting remarks about Chinese people allegedly made by designer Stefano Gabbana.

Swiss investment bank UBS sparked controversy in June for a column which mentioned “Chinese pigs.”

Over this summer, various foreign companies apologized to China for listing ‘Hong Kong’ as a separate country or region on its websites and/or t-shirts.

Still curious about how to actually say ‘cheers’ in Dutch? It’s ‘proost’ and this is how you pronounce it correctly.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

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

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These Are the Foreign Brands Apologizing to China amid Hong Kong Tensions

Who’s apologizing and why? An A-Z list of the foreign companies caught up in China’s online brand hunt.

Manya Koetse

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Foreign luxury brands hoping to appease the Chinese market are walking on eggshells as the political crisis in Hong Kong is deepening. Chinese netizens and state media recently condemned foreign brands for showing any signs of disregarding the One-China Policy. An online witch hunt has begun: this is the list of brands.

While the political crisis in Hong Kong is deepening, the propaganda machine in mainland China is running at full speed to condemn anti-Beijing ‘rioters’ and promote the one-China principle.

As state media has been intensifying its news coverage on the situation in Hong Kong, with virtually all outlets using similar narratives, Chinese web users started to focus on foreign (luxury) brands and whether or not they list Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan as being part of China.

Starting on August 8, Chinese social media platform Weibo has seen dozens of hashtags taking over Chinese social media in relation to the big brand scandal; one foreign brand after the other was exposed as ‘ignoring’ China’s one-China principle on their website or products.

By the beginning of this week, the online brand hunt had almost become like an online contest, with thousands of netizens suggesting new brands that are allegedly not respecting China’s sovereignty.

Although the trend initially began with Chinese web users condemning brands -starting with Versace-, Chinese state media soon also reported about the online controversies and intensified the movement.

Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily wrote that Western brands are quick to apologize, but should also “learn from their mistakes” in the long run, and cannot disregard the One-China Policy if they want to do business in China.

“This is common knowledge, it’s the bottom line,” – online propaganda poster by People’s Daily shows foreign brands and a crack in the “One China” symbol.

State media outlet Global Times also published an illustration online, writing the slogan “China can’t be one bit less” (“中国一点都不能少”) that has been used by state media to emphasize China’s one-China principle since the 2016 South China Sea dispute.

Illustration by Global Times.

In response to the controversies, it has been raining apologies from foreign brands on Chinese social media the past days.

Who is mainly responsible for this online witch hunt? Although it first started with Chinese web users sharing images and screenshots of foreign brands and their ‘erroneous representation’ of China, state media and celebrities soon also started to play a major role in this issue and have contributed to the enormous snowball effect of the trend.

What’s the ‘correct’ way to list Hong Kong or Taiwan according to the one-China principle? Below is an image of the (adjusted) website of Valentino where it lists countries and lists Hong Kong and Taiwan as being part of China.

Here’s a list of the global brands have become tied up in controversy on the mainland this week (this list might still be updated):

 

● ASICS 亚瑟士

Japanese footwear brand

Brand Weibo account:
https://www.weibo.com/asicsofficial (240,000+ fans)

Hashtag:
“ASICS lists HK & Taiwan as Separate Countries” (#亚瑟士将香港与台湾列为国家#): 110 million views.

What’s the problem?
The ASICS website listed Hong Kong and Taiwan as countries.

Apology?
Yes, statement on August 12, followed by “ASICS apologizes” hashtag (#亚瑟士致歉#), 6,5 million views on Weibo. The footwear brand emphasized that it abides by the one-China policy and that it will correct its “mistakes.”

Consequences:
Besides some netizens who vow not to buy any of the brands in this list disregarding the PRC’s one-China policy, there are no indications as of now that the brand is affected by the issue.

 

● CALVIN KLEIN

American fashion brand

Brand Weibo account:
https://weibo.com/calvinklein (303,000 fans)

Hashtag:
“CK Exposed for Insulting China” (##CK被曝辱华##): 1,5 million views.

What’s the problem?:
Calvin Klein faced criticism for listing Taiwan and Hong Kong as separate countries or regions on its website.

Apology?
Yes, statement on August 13, followed by “CK apologizes” hashtag (#ck道歉#), 15 million views on Weibo.

Consequence:
Chinese actress Jelly Lin, Calvin Klein’s brand ambassador for the Asia-Pacific region, announced an immediate termination of collaboration with the American fashion house. The hashtag for this event (#林允终止与CK合作#) received no less than 510 million views. Zhang Yixing (Lay Zhang), a Chinese member of K-pop group Exo and a Calvin Klein model, warned the US clothing company to respect Beijing’s “one China” policy but did not stop working the brand (he did terminate collaborations with Samsung, also in this list).

 

● COACH 蔻驰

American luxury accessories company 

Brand Weibo account:
https://www.weibo.com/coachchina (4+ million fans)

Hashtag:
“Coach Lists HK, Macau, Taiwan as Countries” (#蔻驰将港澳台列为国家#): 6 million views.

What’s the problem?:
Less than 24 hours after Versace’s apology, Coach was among the second batch of brands, along with Givenchy, ASICS, and Fresh, to be exposed online for erroneous geographic listings. Coach got in trouble for a t-shirt displaying ‘Hong Kong’ as an independent region and listing ‘Taipei’ as belonging to ‘Taiwan,’ while Shanghai and Beijing are listed under China.

The tshirt that got Coach into trouble.

The brand was also found to have listed Hong Kong and Taiwan as independent countries under its website’s  “search country” option.

Apology?:
Yes, statement on August 12, followed by “Coach apologizes” hashtag (#蔻驰道歉#), 300 million views on Weibo.

Consequences:
Coach’s China ambassador, supermodel Liu Wen, said on Weibo on Monday that she had cut off her endorsement deal with the fashion label (#刘雯终止与蔻驰合作#, 6 million views) as the brand “seriously impacted the national sentiment of the Chinese people.” State media outlet Global Times suggested the brand faced “potential boycott in China.”

 

● FRESH 馥蕾诗

American beauty brand 

Brand Weibo account:
https://www.weibo.com/freshbeauty (339,500 milion fans)

Hashtag:
No separate hashtag for this incident.

What’s the problem?:
Fresh faced backlash for listing ‘Hong Kong’ as a separate region on its official (English) website.

Apology?:
Yes, statement on August 12, followed by “Fresh apologizes” hashtag (#fresh道歉#,) 8 million views on Weibo.

Consequence:
No known direct consequences.

 

● GIVENCHY 纪梵希

French luxury fashion and perfume house

Brand Weibo account:
https://weibo.com/officialgivenchy (1.5 milion fans)

Hashtag:
The topic ‘Givenchy T-Shirt’ (#纪梵希t恤#) became big on Weibo. The hashtag page has over 500 million views.

What’s the problem?:
Like Coach, Givenchy also got in trouble for a t-shirt displaying ‘Hong Kong’ as an independent region and listing ‘Taipei’ as belonging to ‘Taiwan.’

Apology?:
Yes, statement on August 12, followed by “Givenchy apologizes” hashtag (#纪梵希道歉#,) 290 million views on Weibo.

Consequence:
Chinese singer Jackson Yee terminated his brand partnerships with Givenchy (#易烊千玺与纪梵希解约# 680 million views).

 

● POCARI SWEAT 宝矿力水特

Japanese sport’s drink

Brand Weibo account:
https://www.weibo.com/pocarisweat (15400 fans)

Hashtag:
“Pocari Sweat Get Out of China”(#宝矿力水特滚出中国#) is one of the early hashtags associated with the Pocari controversy. With just over 300,000 views, it did not gain huge traction on Weibo.

What’s the problem?
Pocari Sweat is among the earliest brands – if not the earliest- to be caught up in the brand controversy relating to the protests in Hong Kong. As described by Japan Times, pro-democracy demonstrators praised Pocari after it pulled advertising from Hong Kong television station TVB, which protesters accuse of pro-Beijing coverage. Pocari became a popular drink among Hong Kong protesters.

Apology?:
The mainland China office of the brand issued two apology statements on July 11 and 21 in which it emphasized that it operates separately from the Hong Kong division and that it respects China’s “one country, two systems” policy.

Consequence:
Pocari Sweat was condemned by Chinese state media, but it is not clear if people in mainland China are drinking less Pocari because of the issue.

 

● VALENTINO 

Italian fashion house

Brand Weibo account:
www.weibo.com/valentinoofficial (413,000+ fans)

Hashtag:
No particular hashtag.

What’s the problem?:
Valentino listed Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate countries in the region/language menu on its foreign website.

Apology?:
Yes, statement on August 13, in which Valentino apologizes for making “a mistake” on its website. The website has since been changed.

Consequence:
No known consequences, the website seemed to be quickly adjusted, and many netizens expressed their praise for that and for the fact that the recent trend seems to make foreign brands more aware of the importance of respecting the One-China Policy.

 

● VERSACE 范思哲 

Italian fashion house

Brand Weibo account:
https://www.weibo.com/versacechina (850,000+ fans)

Hashtag:
“Versace Suspected of [Supporting] Hong Kong and Macau Independence” (#范思哲涉嫌港独澳独#): 3.2 million views.

What’s the problem?:
Versace is the first brand to be targeted in this week’s brand-hunting trend. An image of a T-shirt that listed Hong Kong and Macau as independent countries was first posted on Weibo by a female netizen on August 8, who wrote: “I discovered this recently, and wondered if the design of this t-shirt means that Versace is supporting Hong Kong independence?” Three days later, the image had circulated so much that it became a trending topic. Commenters called out the brand for being “two-faced” and for profiting from Chinese money while disregarding Chinese sovereignty.

Apology?:
Yes, statement on August 11, followed by “Versace apologizes” hashtag (#范思哲道歉#,) 860 million views on Weibo. In its statement, Versace stated that the t-shirts had already been recalled and destroyed in late July, and that the fashion house “deeply apologized for the controversy” that was caused by an “error in its t-shirt design.” Versace further stated that the brand “loves China” and “resolutely respects China’s territorial sovereignty.”

Donatella Versace, the designer and chief creative officer of Versace, also issued a personal apology through Instagram, writing: “Never have I wanted to disrespect China’s National Sovereignty and this is why I wanted to personally apologize for such inaccuracy and for any distress that it may have caused.”

Consequence:
Chinese celebrity Yang Mi ended her relationship with Versace. The announcement received a lot of attention on Chinese social media (#杨幂终止与Versace合作# 1.1 billion views).

 

● SWAROVSKI 施华洛世奇

Austrian jewelry company

Brand Weibo account:
https://www.weibo.com/swarovskicom (500,00+ fans)

Hashtag:
Swarovski, together with Calvin Klein, was one of the brands that popped up in the general ‘luxury brand scandal’ after the Versace controversy had snowballed and had moved to Coach, Givenchy, ASICS, and Fresh. The Swarovski issue was exposed just a bit later and had no separate hashtag on Weibo.

What’s the problem?
Swarovski went trending on Chinese social media for classifying Hong Kong as a country on its website.

Apology?
Swarovski issued an apology statement on August 13. The hashtag “Swarovski Apologizes” received over 750 million views on Weibo (#施华洛世奇道歉#).

Consequence:
Chinese actress Jiang Shuying, also known as Maggie Jiang, announced on Tuesday (August 13) that she would be ending her cooperation with Swarovski (#江疏影与施华洛世奇解约#, 410 million views).

 

CURRENTLY UNDER SCRUTINY BUT NO APOLOGIES:

 

● AMAZON 亚马逊

American e-commerce company

Brand Weibo account:
https://www.weibo.com/amazonchina (4.4 million fans)

Hashtag:
“Amazon T-shirts” (#亚马逊t恤#), 140 million views; “Amazon Sells Hong Kong Independence Shirts” (#亚马逊售卖港独T恤#), 18 million views.

What’s the problem?
Amazon is one of the latest brands to be added to the virtual PRC wall of shame of international brands going against Beijing’s “One China” principle. On August 14, screenshots of the Amazon e-commerce platform selling t-shirts promoting an independent Hong Kong and displaying anti-China slogans went viral on Weibo.

Reaction
Amazon did not apologize for the merchandise sold on its platforms, but the company did respond to ChinaNews (#亚马逊回应T恤事件#), emphasizing that Amazon always has and will respect China’s one-China principle, and abide by local laws of the countries Amazon is active in. There were also netizens on Weibo saying they understood that Amazon cannot be responsible for all the merchandise sold by its online shops around the world.

 

● SAMSUNG 三星 

South Korean Tech Company

Brand Weibo account:
https://www.weibo.com/samsung (2.8+ million fans)

Hashtag:
No separate hashtag for this issue, although the announcement that Zhang Yixing would terminate his contract with Samsung did receive over 980 million views, making it one of the bigger hashtags in this brand scandal.

What’s the problem?:
Samsung faced criticism on August 14 for damaging China’s “territorial integrity” by displaying choices Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan as “countries” on its website.

Consequence:
Chinese celebrity and K-Pop star Zhang Yixing (Lay Zhang) announced on August 13 that he would no longer work together with Samsung as a brand ambassador for “hurting the national feelings of Chinese compatriots” (#张艺兴与三星解约#, 980 million views!).

 

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

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

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