A voice-controlled Japanese video game

I’m Fred Raillard, Creative CEO, Co-founder and Creative Chief Officer with Farid Mokart of FRED & FARID, an independent creative boutique network based in New York, Shanghai and Paris. #FredinChina is an essential social media podcast to know and understand the world’s largest economy.

I fell in love with China, and live in Shanghai with my wife and three sons since September 2012. With my teams at the FRED & FARID 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 Zhuomin Qin from FRED & FARID Shanghai.

Thanks to Zhuomin Qin, Feng Huang, Jalila Levesque, Jules Chaffiotte, Radouane Guissi, Yi Zhang, Ying Zhang, Aliou Maro, Tina Liu, Louis Caudevilla, Dushan Karageorgevitch, Jing Qian, Jonathan Roy, Maxime Aubanel and Antoine Robin for their participation to this chronic. Find all #FredinChina podcast on iTunes.

A voice-controlled Japanese video game

The HotPost this week is about the launch of a crazy Japanese video game. The game resembles Super Mario Bros (with a character running from left to right in 2D, jumping over holes). However, the game has an interesting UX feature since the character reacts to voice commands. To make your character jump, you have to shout (quite loudly in a high-pitched voice), otherwise your character will fall.

Just because of this simple feature, there was a huge pop-culture reaction from people on social networks. People are playing the game at work, shouting in their cubicles!

This is naturally a micro-craze that will soon die down, but we witness these types of popular crazes every week on Chinese social networks.

94-year-old Noble Prize winner returns to China

The HotTopic this week is a scientist called Yang Zhen Ning. On Weibo the topic reached the top 10 biggest subjects of the week, and nearly 5 million media impressions on Zhihu (a Chinese Q&A discussion website).

On February 21st, news reports announced that this scientist had returned to China, the country of his birth. Yang Zhen Ning is 94 years old, was born in China, and studied in China before leaving to the U.S. for his career. There he became a U.S. citizen, and he has now renounced his American citizenship to return to China. He is a Noble Prize winner, and even managed to convince one of his fellow scientists (70 years old), who won a Turing Prize to also return home. They knew each other for more than 20 years; and they taught in Tsinghua University since 2003 after living more than 30 years in the U.S.

It was fascinating to see that there were two distinct types of reactions to this news, on two different platforms. On Sina Weibo, which is a very popular platform, there were a lot of positive reactions in the beginning, which then became extremely negative. A lot of criticism was turned to the fact that he was not there during the time when China needed him the most. Now that he is a 94-year-old retired old man, and China is a super power and a booming market he has decided to come home. Instead of taxpayers paying for his retirement in China he should stay in the U.S.!

On Zhihu, which is a more intellectual platform, the discussions and comments centered around the fact that this was a very positive symbol. The return of a Chinese Nobel Prize winner who renounced his American citizenship to come back and live the rest of his life in his homeland was very strong symbolically, in a period of time when the world is polarized between China and the U.S.

Estee Lauder announces Yang Mi as their new Asia Pacific brand ambassador

The HotBrand this week is Estee Lauder, which made 86.5 million media impressions on social networks, and 1.2 million discussions. On February 20th, Estee Lauder announced on their official Sina Weibo site that their new Brand Ambassor for Asia Pacific would be the actress Yang Mi. This actress made a name for herself on Chinese TV series, however not for her acting acumen but rather because she was very beautiful and fashionable. She is an actress that is liked by the public, but not for her acting skills.

This made a lot of noise on social networks because the actress is highly intelligent in regards to social media, and communities in China. She soon realized that there was no reason to fight any criticism leveled at her. Instead of staying silent, she instead participated in the discussions with a lot of self-mockery and wit. This strategy made her very popular in China.

Part of the overall reactions were negative, focusing on understanding why Estee Lauder would choose such a popular star that is only going to degrade its image. Other reactions were extremely positive, praising the fact that she was very modern.

Others also mentioned that this was not the first time that Estee Lauder chose to hire someone with popularity and connections. This is a major topic for brands in China since the main risk for them is being disconnected with the youth. For this reason I believe it is a very intelligent move by Estee Lauder.

Follow Fred on Twitter: @FredFarid, or FRED & FARID: @FredFaridGroup
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Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on February 28, 2017.