Keep channels MALO monkey for first working day after CNY

On Sunday 18 February, the first working day after the CNY holiday (and the first day of a six-day working week), fitness giant Keep announced its latest medal collection: MALO monkey. Keep medals are a reward programme the fitness company introduced which gives members virtual or physical medals, depending on their membership status, for accomplishing certain tasks. The collection of monkey medals is the second of its “it’s just a job” series of meme-based medals, after the first collection with Capibara.

MALO is based on the popular “malao monkey” memes. Malao or malou (吗喽), is the transliteration of the Guanxi dialect of the Cantonese word “马骝”, meaning monkey. The memes are mostly images of apes, usually miserable, with added text about workplace feelings and moods. The popular slogan “吗喽的命也是命”, or “Malao lives matter”, encapsulates the sensibility of office workers feeling like monkeys, or less than human. On Xiaohongshu (RED) there are over 2.6 million notes about Malao monkeys.

The Keep medal collection, recreates popular memes with cartoons in its original art style. The physical medals, or in this case, trophies include figurines of monkeys with text on the base saying “good morning monkey” which comes with accessories like a toy hat and bag.

Since there is no IP holder, this is not considered a collaboration but rather Keep’s interpretation of the memes, however, it feels like it should be one. Keep has been busy working on co-branded medals, such as the team-up with the summer blockbuster The Creation of Gods I: Kingdom of Storms last year. They are already teasing new collabs with popular stickers and meme IP Loopy and Japanese manga/anime Chibi Maruko-chan. Keep medals are trying to become akin to collectibles such as the POP MART figurines.

Keep went public in Hong Kong last July but its value has plummeted 90% recently, partly because of its continuous loss. The medals have been hailed as another means of profit for Keep, and with more creative collabs on the way, they might just be able to lure more young audiences of the IPs to participate in its activities.


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