Smelly meme sensation: Luosifen brand Choubao names actor Deng Chao as new spokesperson

On 11 June, Luosifen brand Choubao officially announced actor Deng Chao as its spokesperson, releasing two meme advertisements in succession. Luosifen (螺蛳粉, lit. River Snail Vermicelli) is renowned for its unique appeal, and customers who appreciate its smelly aroma will find it irresistible. Deng Chao, a famous Chinese actor, has solidified his comedic image through several variety shows this year, garnering increased affection from audiences. Netizens are calling Deng Chao’s endorsement of Choubao Luosifen a ‘perfect match’.

Choubao has distinguished itself over the past few years with its unique brand concept of “Happy Big Big Bite” and its focus on emotional interaction with consumers. Deng Chao has made a significant impact in China’s film and TV industry and the variety show circuit as a “national” actor. Recently, his portrayal of a cute and lovable character has further endeared him to the public, thanks to the viral “Yabi Jiong Jiong Jiong” (亚比囧囧囧) trend — a cutesy catchphrase coined by Deng Chao on a variety show and has no substantive meaning. This personality aligns perfectly with Choubao’s ethos and its image of being “cute, cheap, and funny.” On Weibo, the hashtag #Deng Chao Endorses Choubao# has garnered 130 million views.

The two advertisements maintain the playful tone of the Choubao brand, with Deng Chao’s infectious performance conveying a happy, approachable image to viewers. In the “Big Tofu Skin” film, Deng Chao is seen at a side-street Luosifen stall, flapping the iconic Big Tofu Skin and causing a “hurricane” that knocks off pedestrians’ wigs. In the soup segment, he elegantly raises his cup to taste the Luosifen soup, akin to savouring a glass of fine wine, which is a nod to scenes from “The Great Gatsby.” A netizen humorously remarked, “Isn’t Deng Chao’s advert line ‘Yabi Smelly Smelly Smelly’?”, which sounds similar to “Yabi Jiong Jiong Jiong”. The meme effect of the advertisement is evident.

In recent years, Luosifen, with its unique sour, spicy, and fresh scent, has gained popularity from the alleys of Liuzhou city, to national and even global stages. According to the Liuzhou Municipal Bureau of Commerce, the sales revenue of the entire snail powder industry in Liuzhou reached 66.99 billion RMB (9.25 billion USD) in 2023, marking an 11.5% year-on-year increase. The industry is projected to reach 88.99 billion RMB (12.29 billion USD) by 2025.

Prior to Choubao, the most well-known brand was the eponymous Luosifen created by Vlogger Li Ziqi, who collaborated with Chinese National Geography and Chinese Heritage magazines last year to launch a co-branded Luosifen.

The Choubao brand is known in the English-speaking world as ‘Smelly Baby’, and various Chinese cuisines are famous for their smelly fragrance, including stinky tofu, Beijing Douzhi, and Guizhou chameleon plant. In a bid to appeal to Chinese consumers, KFC launched a new tart on 7 June, blending the flavours of tart, spring onions and thousands-year-old eggs in a novel way to stimulate consumer interest and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the egg tart.


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