China’s “Lipstick King” returns to live streaming after tank cake row

On September 20, China’s top live streamer, “Lipstick King” Li Jiaqi, quietly resurfaced on screen after his mysterious three-month hiatus. In June, the influencer’s live stream was abruptly cut short following the appearance of a tank-shaped cake.

Within the first 10 minutes, Li’s live stream quickly garnered 3 million views, despite not having given any prior notice of the broadcast. By the end of the two-hour session, the number of views soared to 60 million while likes surged to 120 million.

During the broadcast itself, Li showcased renowned brands such as L’Oréal, Anta, Nivea and Neiwei. Although Li repeatedly asked shoppers to “shop rationally” and not to solely buy products out of support, the vast majority of the products sold out within seconds. In merely two hours, Li managed to sell an estimated 120 million RMB ($17 million) worth of products.

Meanwhile, on Chinese social media, Li’s return became a hot topic across Weibo, Xiaohongshu and WeChat Moments. The Weibo hashtag “Li Jiaqi Livestream” amassed 72 million views, while “Li Jiaqi Double Eleven Preview” garnered nearly 3 billion views and over 4 million discussion mentions.

Fans, elated by the comeback, greeted Li with a warm welcome, eager to buy products from him again. Some speculated that his return was a result of his unequivocal value to the Chinese economy, with the power to single-handedly boost retail sales.

At present, Li remains the sole top influencer to have made a comeback in China under the ongoing scrutiny of the live streaming sector, which has been relentlessly cracking down on tax scandals and other controversies. Nevertheless, Li’s return comes just in time for the upcoming Double 11 e-commerce holiday in November, China’s biggest online shopping festival. Industry experts expect his broadcasts will help bolster sales on Alibaba, who reported its first-ever flat year-on-year revenue growth in the second quarter.

All in all, overwhelming sales and feedback from the online community have shown that the “Lipstick King” is ready to reclaim his throne. While the world may never know what truly spurred Li’s return, retail executives and consumers alike will certainly be glad to have him back on board.


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