I'm Fred Raillard, CEO, Co-founder and Creative Chief Officer of FF GROUP, a social, content, tech solutions for brands company based in Paris, Shanghai, Beijing and New York. In partnership with FF GROUP, BFM Business launches #FredinChina, a social media podcast in "Chine Hebdo", the weekly radio broadcast of Mathieu Jolivet. #FredinChina is essential to know and understand the world's largest economy.
I fell in love with China, and live in Shanghai with my wife and sons since September 2012. With my teams at the FF Shanghai agency we monitor, analyze and decrypt this ultra-connected China with nearly 800 million netizens by sharing what we see, hear and read on Weibo, WeChat, Huaban, Youku. I prepare this column with Jing Qian from FF Shanghai.
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Apple Pay arrives in China
This week, the HotBrand is Apple Pay, Apple's mobile payment system which arrived in China. This was a big topic as mobile payment is at the center of the whole digital 'big players' battle in China. So we have Alipay from Alibaba against WeChat Pay from Tencent, which are now competing against Apple Pay from Apple. This is huge as mobile payment in China is the center of gravity of this whole 'BAT War' (Baidu / Alibaba / Tencent). So now we have a new American player in China.
The launch was naturally supported by numerous American brands such as McDonald's, Starbucks and KFC. The funny thing was that a lot of young people in China posted videos of them explaining how the mobile payment system actually worked to the sales people in stores such as McDonald's. It was a kind of battle where you had to show how many people you helped understand the payment system.
The second interesting thing to mention is the pride of using this mobile payment system. It's similar to the pride young people in Tier 1 cities felt when they used Instagram before it was banned. The pride and cool factor of using a Western payment system represents a kind
of badge value in China, where you want people around you to notice that you are using Apple Pay.
And finally on this topic, there is a TV series in China with 4 kings. The first represents Alipay, the second WeChat Pay, the third Apple Pay, and the fourth one (which is the most clever one in the bunch) symbolizes Union Pay. So we all discovered a partnership between Apple Pay and Union Pay, which is a Chinese player. So a lot of Chinese people started saying that the big winner of this battle was not Apple but Union Pay.
A generational gap around homosexuality in China
First let's just quickly go back to last week's HotTopic, which if you remember was the story of the girl who separated from her boyfriend because he was from the countryside and because the meal was just unacceptable for this girl. The whole story was actually a hoax! It was a fake story invented by this girl who is not even from Shanghai. She has a boyfriend from the countryside, but the rest is all fake, including the pictures and the whole separation story. So she got a national buzz for pulling off this hoax.
This week, the HotTopic is called 'Addiction', which is a gay high-school TV series. The show depicts 4 good-looking high-school boys dressed in their typical white and blue schoolboy uniforms, and is about their stories called 'BL' (boys love). The straight girls in China love hearing stories about gay men. The series was extremely successful. It was released on January 29th and already by February 9th, it got into China's top 10 most successful series of all time. And then it was banned on February 22nd. There were still 3 episodes of the season that had not been broadcasted yet, so there were a lot of reactions on social media.
In short, the majority of young people who loved the series were really disappointed as they all wanted to see the end of the series. So they complained heavily about the censorship. The parents were on the whole supportive that the show was banned. They argued that even if they were tolerant and open-minded towards homosexuality, they just didn't think that it was the responsibility of an official TV station to support and promote homosexuality. So you could really see a generational gap with those two conflicting reactions. It was a really hot topic in China, generating 850 million media impressions!
This scientist deserves an apology
The HotTopic of the week is related to gravitational waves, and Albert Einstein's theory in 1916 regarding the waves and ripples in space time. Here we are talking about a Chinese talk show on TV that happened a few months ago. The main principle of the show is that it resembles a job interview. The participants are all pitching for a job and face a jury that reacts, comments and gives them advice on how to improve the quality of their pitch. This time there was a man pitching for a scientist job. During his speech he mentioned the gravitational theory, but the jury's reactions were really ironic and sarcastic making the poor man look like an idiot.
This week, some people posted that moment during the show on social media, emphasizing how dumb the jury actually was for criticizing the theory that was proven to be true. With the tables turned, and the jury now looking stupid, there is a feeling of justice. Naturally that video was widely spread on Chinese social media and shared by everyone. Some people reacted by asking the jury to officially apologize to this man, while others mentioned the fact that the man pitching for the job was not that clever in the first place, so maybe the jury should not apologize!