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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.

Stories that are authored by the What's on Weibo Team are the stories that multiple authors contributed to. Please check the names at the end of the articles to see who the authors are.

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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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China Marketing & Advertising

Hard Measures for Durex in China after “Vulgar” Ads

One Durex sex toy ad gave off the wrong vibrations to Chinese regulators.

Manya Koetse

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As if it wasn’t already bad enough that fewer people are having sex during COVID19 lockdowns, leading to a decline in condom sales, condoms & sex toys brand Durex is now also (again) punished for the “vulgar” contents of its advertisements in China.

News of Durex facing penalties in China became top trending on Thursday, with one Weibo hashtag page about the matter receiving over 1,2 billion views.

Durex has over three million fans on its official Weibo account (@杜蕾斯官方微博), which is known for its creative and sometimes bold posts, including spicy word jokes. Durex opened its official Weibo account in 2010.

A post by Durex published on Wednesday about the release of Apple’s super speedy new 5G iPhone, for example, just said: “5G is very fast, but you can take it slow,” adding: “Some things just can’t be quick.” The post received over 900,000 likes.

Other ads have also received much praise from Chinese netizens. One ad’s slogan just shows a condom package, saying “Becoming a father or [image of condom] – it’s all a sign of taking responsibility.”

According to various Chinese news outlets, Durex has been penalized with a 810,000 yuan ($120,400) fine for failing to adhere to China’s official advertisement guidelines, although it is not entirely clear to us at this point which fine was given for which advertisement, since the company received multiple fines for different ads over the past few years.

One fine was given to Durex Manufacturer RB & Manon Business (Shanghai) for content that was posted on e-commerce site Tmall, Global Times reports.

According to the state media outlet, “the ad used erotic words to describe in detail multiple ways to use a Durex vibrator.” The fine was already given out in July of this year, but did not make headlines until now.

(Image for reference only, not the ad in question).

In another 2019 case, the condom brand did a joint social media campaign cooperation with Chinese milk tea brand HeyTea, using the tagline “Tonight, not a drop left,” suggesting a connection between HeyTea’s creamy topping and semen.

According to China’s Advertisement Examination System (广告审查制度), there are quite some no-goes when it comes to advertising in China. Among many other things, ads are not allowed to be deceptive in any way, they cannot use superlatives, nor display any obscene, scary, violent or superstitious content.

Chinese regulators are serious about these rules. In 2015, P&G’s Crest was fined $963,000 for “false advertising”, at it promised that Crest would make your teeth whiter in “just one day.”

However, advertisement censorship can be a grey area. Any ads that “disturb public order” or “violate good customs,” for example, are also not allowed. For companies, it is not always clear when they are actually crossing a line.

On Weibo, there are also contrasting opinions on this matter. Many people, however, support Durex and enjoy their exciting ads and slogans. With the case dominating the top trending charts and discussions on social media the entire day, the latest penalty may very well be one of Durex’s most successful marketing campaigns in China thus far.

By Manya Koetse

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.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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