:: The Thing has a small selection of original / independent Chinese music for sale at its Wujiang Rd. store in Shanghai. RMB 30 per CD. // AjS
:: The Thing has a small selection of original / independent Chinese music for sale at its Wujiang Rd. store in Shanghai. RMB 30 per CD. // AjS
:: in the spirit of World Consumer Rights Day (March 15), I’ve been compelled to voice my consumer opinion on something that really pisses me off. And it’s not the typical case of foreign companies ripping off or insulting Chinese netizens, etc. This time, it’s the other way around. Here goes…
56minus1 is constantly spammed by this Web site: www.52jordan.com (52 in Chinese net-speak means “I love.” It’s a phonetic play on the Chinese phrase “I love,” which in Mandarin has a similar pronunciation as the numbers “5″ and “2.”)
Being the sucker (and Jordan fan) that I am, I recently gave in and clicked on one of the site’s links. I suggest you try it too, then come back.
OK, now that you are back, I’m sure you found the same dodgy site that I did: one that presents itself, atrociously, as a legit reseller of Nike Air Jordan, Air Force 1, and Air-Max series sneakers for only USD 85 or less (shipping included). Preposterous indeed, but, that’s what they say they are (sorta). From the site’s About Us section:
“We are a professional & reliable supplier of series of innovative, authentic & inexpensive Nike shoes with original box and retro card from China, such as Air-Jordan（1-23), Air-Max, Air-Force 1, etc.”
The site is riddled with suspect content. Google search any line of text from the articles presented in the News section to see that they have all been copied-and-pasted from random, unrelated third-party sites without any sort of citation. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Oddly, the site is also mirrored (in full) at www.kissaj.com, www.gogoaj.com, and www.jordansport2.com.
I often see this kind of stuff on the Chinese Internet (in Chinese language) and think nothing of it because it targets Chinese consumers who are familiar with such scams and either know better or simply don’t mind not getting the real thing, etc. (However, I still don’t think any Chinese consumer would pay RMB 600 for knock-offs). But, I worry that those outside of China may not know better. Maybe they would. Sigh…
I wanted to learn more about this operation, so I added the Web site’s posted MSN instant messaging contact information (email@example.com) to my MSN account. This, and an email address, was the only contact information made available. Below is a slightly edited and translated transcript of the IM conversation I had with the “customer service” staff at www.52jordan.com. Interesting and bizarre. You draw your own conclusions, but, in doing so, please share in this post’s comment sections. The full Chinese (and Italian!) transcript of the original conversation can be found here.
56minus1: Hello? Anyone here?
52jordan.com: Yes, what can I help you with?
56minus1: Hi, I saw your 52jordan.com site, not bad! The problem is, my English is not so good so I can’t understand. Do you have a Chinese version?
52jordan.com: No. We only sell to foreigners / foreign markets. Sorry.
56minus1: I’m a foreigner, it’s just that my English sucks.
52jordan.com: Where are you from?
52jordan.com: What’s your phone number, I’ll give you a call. We have staff here that can speak Italian.
56minus1: I can’t talk on the phone now because I am at work and my boss will hear me. Hahahaha. I collect Jordan sneakers, but they are very hard to find!
52jordan.com: That’s OK, we’ll call you back after you get off work.
56minus1: I just want to learn more about how to buy the shoes because I can’t read the Web site on my own. They are so cheap, such a good price! How can they be so cheap? Are they fake? Are they “shanzhai’d” versions?
52jordan.com: Haha. Send me your postal address in Italy and then I will tell you how to purchase from the site.
56minus1: My postal address? I just want to know if they are real Jordans or not.
52jordan.com: Sorry, I must first confirm your postal address in Italy before answering your question.
56minus1: Okay, Fine. My address in Italy is Via Filippo Turati 3, 20121, Milano. [56minus1 editorial note: this is the address of AC Milan's stadium.]
52jordan.com: I am sorry, my Chinese is bad, can you tell me what “shanzhai’d” means?
56minus1: It just means fake, as in not authentic. They are so cheap on the Web site, so I’m curious to know if they are legit Nikes or what? I don’t get it.
52jordan.com: I’m sorry, let me have my colleague talk to you in Italian. My Chinese is not so good.
56minus1: Okay. But I think your Chinese is good enough to answer my simple question. Before switching over to your colleague, can you first answer me? I don’t care if they or fake or not, I will still buy them, I just want to know what I am actually buying.
52jordan.com: Ho potuto fare nulla per voi. Scarpe sono vere. È acquistare scarpe. (Italian, clearly via Google Translate, meaning: What can I do for you? The shoes are real. Do you want to buy?)
56minus1: Scarpe sono vere? (Italian, also via Google Translate, meaning: The shoes are real?) Really?
52jordan.com: Dove sei persone? (English: Where are you?)
56minus1: Milano, Italy. It seems your Italian is not so good either. How about we just use Chinese?
52jordan.com: Look, if you want to know about the shoes, just buy a pair and you’ll know, no? I think answering your question directly is pointless. What’s most important is that you first buy a pair and judge for yourself.
56minus1: Hmmm :-( If they are fake, I think the price should be cheaper. If they are real, it’s a great price and I may buy multiple pairs. So are they real or are they fake?
52jordan.com: They are real. Will you please give me your phone number so I can call you. We are very professional and will provide you the best service. I’m sorry, but we are closing up shop now. Please send me your phone number. We have 24 hours service.
56minus1: What? 24 hours service? How can you have 24 hours service and tell me you are “closing up shop?” Are the shoes really real?
52jordan.com: Sorry, we are all getting off work now. We’ll call you later if you give us your number. Don’t worry, we will take care of your service needs. Or, if you have more questions, we can chat again tomorrow.
52jordan.com: contact status changed to offline
:: I bought this today and gifted it to someone special. That someone special loved it. It’s a sofa pilow with a Chairman Mao graphic done entirely in hot pink circuitry, complete with capacitors, nodes, paths, and transistors! Purchased at The Thing in Shanghai on Wujiang Rd for RMB 60. The Thing also has t-shirts with this image (I have one). Bravo, well done. // AjS
:: taken on Shimen Yi Rd. (near Wujiang Rd. intersection); a shop advertising sales promotions a day before its toppling. I can’t put my finger on what it is about these adverts that caught my eye. Perhaps their slapdash “dooms-day” presentation: dripping spray paint, shoddy red tissue paper, etc. Or maybe the surrounding scene of consumer excitement juxtaposed with the declarations of impending destruction. Not sure. Thoughts?
Also, this is not the first time I have seen an eye painted above a “chai” (拆) character in Shanghai, does anyone know if there is a back story behind this? // AjS
:: “…when I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized God doesn’t work that way, so I stole one and prayed for forgiveness…”
:: Kaixin001.com, the wildly popular Chinese social networking site, appears to have opened up its platform to full-on branded campaigns and mini-sites! Brands have always had a presence on Kaixin001 as part of the site’s casual games / applications (Parking Wars, Buy a House, Send a Gift, Buy / Sell Friends, etc.) but the site seems to have upped the anti with the release of a new game / application yesterday called “Special Treatment” (非常礼遇), which is presented almost entirely as a branded Magnum (Unilever product) ice cream-branded effort, see below:
I won’t get into the specifics of the game, but in short, it revolves around publicly “teasing” your friends on the site and a resulting individual ranking among all participants. The higher your rank, the more opportunities you get to tease your friends and the more ways you get to do it. All pretty straight forward and very much done-before stuff, but, what’s interesting is 1) how boldly with game / application is presented as Magnum-branded within the Kaixin001 ecosystem, and 2) that success in the game is linked to offline purchases of Magnum ice cream bars (novel!). Gaming codes can be found on the sticks of Magnum bars and redeemed directly on the site or via mobile phone for more “teasing” opportunities / methods, etc. I can’t recall seeing anything like this on other Chinese social networking sites; definitely a first for Kaixin011. See below:
As the campaign just came out, it’s too early to know if and how it will be successful, or if it will lead to more brands opening up shop within Kaixin001. But, it’s worth keeping an eye on as another way brands are trying to engage with target audiences online in China.
In the meantime, what I want to know is if the Kaixin001 team created the application and approached Magnum for brand involvement, or was it the other way around? If the latter, who’s behind the campaign for Magnum, does anyone know? I’m curious about the costs involved for Magnum, thoughts? It’s also interesting to note that the offline purchase element of the game seems to only be offered in Beijing and Shanghai – that seems like a massively missed opportunity, but I can understand the possible logistics issues involved. // AJS
[UPDATE: I've learned from Kaixin001 directly that the campaign at this stage is just an experiment and that the site is not openly cooperating with brands on this scale, not yet anyway. They want to see users' reaction first, then they may consider similar brand campaigns in the future. If the campaign goes over well with users, I can imagine Kaixin001 charging huge amounts of money for brands to do this kind fo stuff inside it's domain: some of the priciest real estate online in China.]
:: say hello to Jing Jing, one of Nial O’Connor’s many comic book characters. Jing Jing’s has the magical power of instantaneously actualizing her ideas and imagination, but not first without intense concentration –– as shown below. I took this photo today at Nial’s apartment after wrapping up a day of shooting for a video project he and I are working on together. Stay tuned for more on that project. // AjS
:: in my day to day interaction with clients and brands across the different practice teams at Edelman China, I am often asked: “what’s happening online in Chinese social media around [INSERT ANY TOPIC].” When I first began researching Chinese social media, online communities, efluencers, Internet word of mouth, etc., I was skeptical about finding anything of real substance around obscure or niche topics, but it didn’t take long for me to learn my lesson. With 300+ million active users, the Chinese Internet has a place for everyone and everything. In almost all cases, robust and active interaction among netizens exists around just about any imaginable topic. As such, the opportunities for companies / brands to engage online with different target audiences is essentially endless.
I challenged myself to dig up and summarize some of the more random online communities you can find on the Chinese Internet – what didn’t make the final cut for the shortlist below, but easy could have, was lesbian fiction, UFO watching, Korean popstar fanfic, religious prayer groups, breakdance, and on and on…
graffiti & urban art ::
GCC is an intimate forum for graffiti artists across the country. It was launched late last year as the new incarnation of graffiti.net.cn, a forum that lost control of its URL, and the comments in the “resurrection” thread showed that it had been sorely missed. Cyworld, a SNS for “showing off” things, has a community devoted to graffiti in Xi’an (西美街头涂鸦社团). It links to a website devoted to Xi’an street culture, and other crews such as MiG, and a group of several in Jiangsu. Douban has a graffiti group where members contribute photos, discuss techniques, and share prospective locations for graffiti projects. One post has a helpful bilingual list of graffiti-related terms in Chinese and English. Douban also has an urban stencil art group. Crews often make use of blogs to publicize their offline projects. Beijing’s well-known 916 crew (916涂鸦社) posts frequently about their activities in and around the Communication University of China. Popil, an artist who hangs around Neocha.com (graffiti tag), also features photos of her work on her Blogbus as well. And Cherub, who posts on GCC, puts up extensive photos of her work in Shenzhen and other places in China.
comics, illustration, & animation ::
Huoshen has a well-trafficked BBS with instructional posts, boards where artists can share finished work or sketches, and an e-magazine containing members’ work as well as how-tos. ComicYou hosts original comics, classified into strips, illustrations, and longer serializations. The site is a community of artists and enthusiasts and its members have published their work in magazines and as stand-alone graphic novels, most recently an authorized adaptation of Full Band Interception (全频带阻塞干扰) by noted science fiction author Liu Cixin. Douban has a group for aspiring comics authors with links to the blogs of well-known artists and writers, including fantasy illustrator Zhang Xiaoyu and risque comics artist Demidov. For readers of comics, Dongman.Net hosts translations of foreign-language comic books and animation, and includes other aspects of comics and otaku culture such as the “Damn Couples” movement (情侣去死去死团). The Marsarea Institute of Animation hosts forums where CG animators and illustrators can trade tips and tricks, or show off their latest masterpieces. The discussions can get very involved (as in this debate comparing domestic “artist’s rendering” techniques to those used overseas), but it’s difficult for outsiders to follow because images are only displayed to logged-in users.
cosplay kids ::
Cosplay, an activity in which people dress up in the costumes of characters from video games, cartoons, or books, has ties to the comics and gaming communities. Many comics websites have cosplay sub-boards, and the ChinaJoy Digital Entertainment Expo has held a cosplay event since 2004, televised since 2007. Cosplayzone is a Facebook-like SNS for cosplayers. Fans of specific stories or characters can usually find other cosplay enthusiasts on communities devoted to particular series, as in these cosplayers bringing to life characters from the domestic fantasy series “Legend of Wings” (羽传说). Douban hosts a cosplay group with 1,036 members who share pictures, exchange information about events, and trade costume tips. More of a look, and less tied to any particular story, is Douban’s “Gothic & Lolita” group, whose 564 members discuss gothic lolita-style clothing and post links to online shops (such as Taobao outlets) that have the “Alice gone bad” look for sale.
X-Kicks (新新球鞋网) is THE place to go for sneaker discussion. The forum receives upwards of 10,000 comments a day about sneakers and sneaker culture. The Club Shoes BBS is a similar discussion forum whose No Fake board is the most popular sub-forum. Netizens post photos of sneakers and ask for opinions on whether they are genuine or fake. Slightly less organic is the Kicks.cn BBS , which is associated with the People’s Sports Publishing House-sponsored 鞋帮 kicks.cn magazine. One of the interesting sub-boards it hosts is devoted to scans and etext versions of articles and ads about name-brand shoes. Further along the corporate axis is the Sina Sports Shoe board “I’m crazy about shoes.” Nike is involved, so practically all of the shoes featured on the front page are Nike branded, even though group members discuss other brands. Douban has a number of groups devoted to shoe lovers, but the most popular ones are nostalgia-based: the FeiYue group and the Warrior Shoes group each have over 1,000 members who are fans of the classic state-owned athletic brands. [More on 56minus1 regarding Chinese retro sneakers: here, here, here, and here.]
body modification ::
360Quan, a generic youth-oriented social networking website has a channel especially for tattoos and other body art that distills the top posts from 360Quan groups such as Tattoo Lovers. China Tattoo Net is a social network for tattoo lovers, offering space for photo uploads and for discussion of techniques. Many tattoo parlors have their own websites providing galleries of their work and other related information. Hell Tattoo has a MySpace page whose friends list forms an ad-hoc community of tattoo artists and body art enthusiasts. China Body Art List has a handy list of a lot of other tattoo parlor websites. Douban has a large forum devoted to tattoo and body piercing, which hosts discussions of various piercings and the potential pain and awkwardness they may bring (with parents, for example). Less mainstream forms of body modification are still sensitive enough that their forums try to stay off the radar: Douban’s BME group is members-only, for example. Often, body mod forums are found as sub-boards on BBSs devoted to the rock music scene.
[Friday 5 is the product of my work at Edelman Digital (China). Link here for the full Friday 5 archive. If you'd like to be added to the bilingual (English & Chinese) Friday 5 email distribution list, please send me an email at: adam DOT schokora AT edelman DOT com.]
:: I randomly came across this photograph on my computer and I have no idea how it got there or whose work it is, but it’s excellent. Can anyone help source / cite this? // AjS
[56minus1 update: This photograph is the work of performance artist Zhang Huan.]
:: below is a slideshow presentation of work from Italian multimedia artist and body painter Guido Daniele. These pieces were all painted on human hands. Bravo, well done. H/T to Sabrina, thanks for sharing. // AjS
:: taken at a Shanghai Foreign Correspondents Club event in which Danwei.org founder and editor Jeremy Goldkorn addressed a full house with insightful and humorous anecdotes from his 15 years of experience in China’s online and offline media world. [Please take notice of Jeremy's quasi-jewfro shadowed on the projector screen, superb!]
The following evening I had the indescribable pleasure of having Mr. Goldkorn at my home for dinner, during which he was gracious enough to introduce me to an old-school Internet meme of monumental vileness: Goatse. Thanks Jeremy. // AjS
[full disclosure: I am a contributor to Danwei.org]
B6 – In The Mix – 01
01 :: Morgan Geist – Detroit
02 :: Chopstick + Johnjon – Birds
03 :: Mark Broom – Black Russian
04 :: Dubfire + Oliver Huntemann – Diablo
05 :: Johan Ilves – Dead City (D Dub Remix)
06 :: Access Denied – Durg Dzilla
07 :: Minilogue – Space (Roland M Dill Remix)
08 :: Parice Baumel – Roar
09 :: 2020 Soundsystem – Psycho (Audiojack Remix)
10 :: Ginos & Snake – Glou Glou