- Chinese rock band Second Hand Rose starred in JD.com’s new used appliances and devices trade-in campaign as “Second Hand Didn’t Rise”.
- The band has been on a non-stop campaign tour with JD.com and Ambrosial yoghurt since appearing and ultimately winning season 3 of the music variety show The Big Band.
- Music festivals and live performances are booming in China, and brands like JD.com, Ambrosial, even Midea and Tmall are all trying to leverage the trend.
On the last day of October, rumours spread that Chinese rock band Second Hand Rose (二手玫瑰) was changing its name. The topic “#听说二手玫瑰改名了#” (#iheardsecondhandroseischangingitsname) garnered 170 million views and 187,000 engagements. However, it soon transpired that it was part of the campaign the band has been doing with JD.com for its “11.11” or Double 11 sales events. The new name, “Second Hand Didn’t Rise” (二手没贵) plays on the fact that “没贵” (doesn’t get expensive) sounds the same as “玫瑰” (rose) if pronounced in typical northern Chinese dialects, including the Northeastern dialect Second Hand Rose is known to write and perform in.
Second Hand rose to the mainstream
The announcement of the band’s new moniker was accompanied by a spoof video that parodies films from The Godfather to recent Chinese-language horror films. The video tells a story of the frontman Liang Long getting an offer he can’t refuse from JD.com to change the band name for advertisement. The main star of the video, however, is JD.com’s trade-in service for used appliances and electronic devices, hence the “second hand” and “doesn’t get expensive” parts.
In fact, the video was teased on the 23rd of October, the same day Liang appeared on the initial livestream event for JD.com’s Double 11, joining other celebrities and influencers. On the 26th, the band appeared as guests and performed on Ambrosial yoghurt’s JD.com livestream. The band had previously worked with Ambrosial in September for co-branded packaging. The “rock edition” of the yoghurt donned a kitschy contrasting red and green rose pattern, typical of the band’s aesthetic, sometimes described as Northeastern gothic.
The band, especially the frontman Liang, is known for their outrageously glam stage outfits, dramatic makeup and campy performances, as well as their down-to-earth humour, inherent in the culture of Northeast China. Liang has appeared in various variety shows in recent years and even has his own makeup livestream channel. The campaign, with its (un)ironically punny tagline and corny video, fits the band like a satin glove.
The rock show
The reason behind the close partnership between one of China’s most celebrated underground rock bands and one of the major e-commerce platforms is quite simple. The band had just won the champion title of the third season of music variety show The Big Band, first streamed between August 25th and October 20th, which JD.com and Ambrosial sponsored. The first two seasons of the show had propelled indie bands like New Pants into mainstream stardom, who appeared on TV shows and sold out stadiums after winning the first season. But it needs to be pointed out that both New Pants and Second Hand Rose, with their over 20 years of history, were already elder statesmen in China’s indie scene before shooting to wider fame.
On the other hand, music festivals have exploded everywhere. During the 8-day Mid-Autumn/National Day holiday between September 29th to October 6th, over 60 festivals were held across China, while the record high in 2020 was just over 20 festivals. Tier 2 and 3 cities were the main playgrounds for festivals, where the local governments were sponsoring the events in the hope of pushing tourism. Bands that have appeared on any of the three seasons of The Big Band were in high demand. For the same reason, labels love to push their bands to the variety show.
It’s strictly business
Sponsors of the third season, including JD.com and Ambrosial, had already made use of the participating bands while the show was on air, mostly in the form of commercial breaks during the show. The aforementioned collaborative yoghurt packaging was a rare example of a band featuring in campaigns outside the show, albeit Second Hand Rose did win eventually.
However, the timing of JD.com and Ambrosial’s campaigns was wisely chosen because it was after the show had ended but not yet forgotten, and just enough time leading up to the Double 11 events for the most impact. October 23rd, the day the name change was teased and Liang Long appeared on Ambrosial’s livestream, was significant because it was one day after Second Hand Rose played with current and past winners and breakout bands from The Big Band at Worker’s Stadium in Beijing, as the grand finale for the third and possibly final season of the show. 31st of October, when the video was dropped, was the day the concert began streaming online.
JD.com was not the only one who sought to bank on the band. Second Hand Rose, with its fortunate name, starred in electrical appliances giant Midea’s pop-up trade-in shop and video. Interestingly, the Midea “Second Hand for Second Hand” campaign was co-hosted by Tmall, JD.com’s largest competitor. With brands other than sponsors of The Big Band trying to harness the popularity of both the show and bands like Second Hand Rose, the trend might just survive the next festival season, with or without the help of the show.