Posted by Abe Sauer on May 10, 2012 11:37 AM
The "disagreement" between China and the Philippines over the ownership of tiny Huangyan Island in the South China Sea is heating up to "saber rattling" level, with warships headed to the region and Chinese newspapers warning not to "Attempt to Take Away Half an Inch of China's Territory."
On China's microblog Weibo, nationalistic server is being stirred with rumors of a Chinese shopping mall in the Philippines the victim of arson (18 dead) and heavy circulation showing a Filipino burning a Chinese flag.
And what's a lot of heated national passions good for if not brand building? One men's hygiene brand thinks so at least and has launched a "Huangyan Island is China's" viral campaign. The brand's official partner, the National Basketball Association, may feel differently.
Dunk, a brand of men's skincare lotion that bills itself as a "genuine NBA product," posted to Weibo:
"What is the true man? It's our fellows in the South China Sea, insisting on fighting for the motherland's territory. Dunk and the fellows in the South China Sea are together!"
The post went on to drive users to a promotional web page announcing that "Men should have attitude - Huangyan Island is China's!" and that, from May 5 to May 17, those who post a photo of themselves holding a sign reading "Huangyan Island is China's!" to Weibo and tag the brand, will receive one free Dunk product. The tagline, "Huangyan Island is China's" (黄岩岛是中国的), appears inspired by a comment by a Chiense reporter who sailed to the islands and planted a Chinese flag there.
So far many users have complied. Men and women both. Posting their pictures, users added, thoughts like "China VS The Phillipines - Go China!" (China VS 菲律宾~~~顶中国) and China's territory cannot be violated!" (国家领土不容侵犯).
After less than a day of the promotion, Dunk had collected 1,578 entries from people insisting on escalating a potential military conflict for some free men's moisturizer worth about $5 or $6.
On that same page, Dunk reminds everyone to tune in for the NBA China Tour.
Dunk products all carry the red, white and blue NBA logo, so its claim to being genuinely endorsed by the NBA appears legitimate. So just how does the NBA feel about being the official sponsor of an international incident?