The Snow King, the mascot of Chinese ice cream and tea chain Mixue Bingcheng and star of his own cartoon show, has debuted a new look. This time the snowman royalty gets dressed in a traditional Chinese quilted jacket, or “棉袄”, with a typical Northeast China floral pattern in contrasting red and green colours.
Mixue changed its Weibo profile picture (while giving away a ‘digital jacket’ for anyone’s profile picture) for the occasion. It also shared a video of a costumed mascot in the jacket performing traditional yangge dance and shovelling snow. More importantly, a floral cup sleeve, complete with faux-fur detail and a Snow King card, has become available for free with each purchase of a drink at Mixue locations all across China.
On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform, the hashtag #东北的雪王已经穿花棉袄了# (“Snow King in the Northeast is wearing a quilted jacket”) has gained over 15 million views since November 7th and #花棉袄雪王# (“floral jacket Snow King”) currently has 1.65 million views.
Founded in 1997, Mixue Bingcheng is known for its creative campaigns and personification of the Snow King IP. This August, the brand released Snow King is Coming (雪王驾到), the first-ever cartoon series based on a tea shop chain IP. Over the summer, Mixue became the talk of netizens several times for eye-catching campaigns, including a co-branded concept tea shop with China Post in Xi’an, dabbling in the Hanfu scene, and a Snow King castle concept store in Chengdu. Speculations of its IPO in Hong Kong also kept the brand in the news.
For a long time, Northeast China was best known for its comedy sketches and errenzhuan folk musical theatre. However, since 2019, “Northeast renaissance”, a term popularised by rapper Baoshi Gem, has heralded a new wave of interest in the culture of the region. Currently “Northeast renaissance” is often used to describe literature from and about the region. On the other hand, the popular web series Long Season (2023) and rock band Second Hand Rose are both referred to as part of the movement. Second Hand Rose famously uses the red and green floral pattern as their visual motif and takes inspiration from errenzhuan and yangge folk styles for their music. Their breakout performance on the music variety show The Big Band stimulated further interest in the culture.
The renaissance partially explains why Mixue is doing this campaign now, since #东北大花# (“Northeast floral pattern”) and #东北花棉袄# (“Northeastern floral jacket”) are both popular topics since as early as 2015. Indeed, there are discussions about whether there really is a renaissance, since there has never been a “dark age” for Northeastern culture.