Kylian Mbappé joins Chinese social media: How many memes have been generated?

On 26 April, renowned French football player Kylian Mbappé, who now plays for Paris Saint-Germain F.C. (PSG), officially joined Xiaohongshu (RED). Within 4 days, Mbappé made 3 posts, with bilingual text, accumulating a total of 192,000 followers. The first video of him greeting users gained 88.2K and 11K comments.

Unlike Lionel Messi, who was criticised for not paying attention to Chinese followers during his trip to Hong Kong this year, Mbappé and his team are actively integrating themselves into the Chinese internet world. They have even begun to learn how to use memes, such as “Mbappé listens to users’ persuasion” (姆巴佩听劝), which reflects the importance they attach to the Chinese market.

Following Mbappé’s arrival on Xiaohongshu, fans have been contributing their own posts such as “My story with Boss Mbappéde”, guided by Xiaohongshu’s officials and through spontaneous participation.

Unsure whether it was a deliberate act by the team or a personal one by Mbappéde, whose Xiaohongshu account collects many interesting posts revolving around PSG fans, pandas, China travel tips (e.g. Sanya, Shanghai), food (e.g. Tianshui Malatang), and more. This behaviour gathered the love of many users, and the hashtag “who can teach Mbappé off the collections” (#谁能教姆巴佩关下收藏夹#) on 28 April featured at the top of Xiaohongshu’s Hot Search List with a cumulative total of 11 million views.

On other platforms, such as Hupu (a community website focusing on sports events and men’s interests) and Weibo (China’s Twitter-like platform), Mbappé’s entry to Xiaohongshu also triggered attention and discussion among fans, mainly focusing on gossip amongst the football circle. Some netizens said “Mbappé and PSG’s Xiaohongshu account did not follow each other, indicating that the two must be breaking up”, and other users said “Mbappé learnt his first Chinese word in Xiaohongshu was Neymar, and then deleted all of the comments about Neymar (the two were at odds last year).”

Mbappé has his own Super Topic (fan community) on Weibo, with 68K followers and 1.04 billion post views. But Mbappé and his team chose to be first on Xiaohongshu, which has a predominantly female user base. This can be attributed to Xiaohongshu’s strategy of ramping up the sports content space.

As early as the 2022 World Cup, Xiaohongshu became an important content sharing platform. Zidane, Mourinho, Simeone and other big names in football released posts on Xiaohongshu, announcing that they would accompany netizens to talk about football during the World Cup. Since then, with the entry of Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester United and other big football clubs, it has continued to deepen the content and influence of Xiaohongshu’s head football IP, and now, when searching for “football” in Xiaohongshu, the number of related posts has reached 2.81 million.


Join our newsletter