Rewind to 2008? Jay Chou returns as Sprite brand ambassador with newcomer Lay Zhang

Since its announcement at the end of April, Sprite has been making waves on social media about its two latest global ambassadors, Taiwanese singer-songwriter Jay Chou and Chinese actor and singer Lay Zhang Yixing. Not only is Zhang currently one of the hottest celebrities in China, but the new appointments also mark the return of the Coca-Cola-owned beverages slogan from as early as 2006: “透心凉,心飞扬” (lit. penetrating coolness, soaring heart).

Zhang released a new song “Shuffle” on 20 May, the internet coined “I Love You” Day. The song also incorporates the slogan into its lyrics. The music video, posted on Zhang’s own account received over 1 million reposts on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, alone. Zhang’s appointment comes a year after he recorded for Sprite’s Limelight initiative. On Weibo, the topic “Zhang Yixing Sprite global brand ambassador” (#张艺兴雪碧全球品牌代言人#) amassed a whopping 1.04 billion views while the other topics such as the one about Chou and the one about both of them have 120 million and 150 million views respectively.

Mandopop legend Jay Chou was already one of the hottest stars when he joined Sprite in 2008. At the time Sprite’s roster included big-shot singer-songwriters such as J J Lin and Angela Chang, and each campaign was heavily music-related. The late 1990s and early to mid-2000s were often considered the “golden era” of Mandopop. On 3 June, Sprite released a music video for Jay Chou’s remixed version of his 2008 hit “Rice Field” (稻香), more explicitly harking back to the era.

Of course, with Lay Zhang in the picture, Sprite is not banking on nostalgia alone. With many brands trying to leverage the interest in the period when pop culture was more dynamic and many would argue “better” than today (discounting possible golden age fallacy), Sprite goes both ways but stands firmly with music at the centre of its messaging. With stars that can cover a large age range from late Gen X to Gen Z, Sprite will likely stand out with its celebrity endorsement.


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