Online vendors in China are going crazy over a Peppa Pig meme
Viral promo video for Lunar New Year Peppa Pig movie inspires opportunistic sellers
Enterprising online vendors in China are proving that it’s never too early to cash in on a blockbuster movie… even if they don’t have the rights to it.
Check these items out. Do they look familiar?
If you think it looks like a strange, metallic version of Peppa Pig, well… yeah. That’s exactly what they are.
They’re actually air blowers. If you don’t know what those are, the hand-operated types are often found in rural households, used for starting a fire on the stove. They typically cost under US$5 each on Taobao. But slap on Peppa’s good name and now they’re five times that price.
(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba -- the operator of Taobao.)
It’s all down to the viral phenomenon called “What’s Peppa” that’s taking China by storm. It was triggered by a roughly five-minute promotional video for “Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year”, a full-length movie featuring the British cartoon darling Peppa Pig that’s coming to Chinese cinemas on the first day of the Lunar New Year -- which, appropriately enough, begins the Year of the Pig.
The promotional video became a sensation in its own right, because it features one adorable grandfather’s quest to decipher his grandson’s gift request: “Peppa”. He eventually finds out from his neighbor that, when an air blower is painted pink, it looks just like Peppa Pig.
(And so that’s why the grandfather who bought a small child a household appliance as a gift is actually an amazing grandfather and not a terrible one.)
It didn’t take long for sellers on Taobao to take advantage of this. There are, of course, pink air blowers for sale -- but also sweatshirts, T-shirts, tote bags, wall decorations, and embroidered handkerchiefs, all featuring pink air blowers. And to be honest, none of that is particularly surprising though -- we all know Taobao is the place to look for things you had no idea you even wanted.
Peppa Pig has a surprisingly subversive history in China. After winning the hearts of millions of Chinese preschoolers, it’s also become associated with gangsters after a man posted a photo of himself with Peppa drawn on his back like a tattoo.
That image became an instant meme and inspired many others to pair Peppa Pig accessories with street looks. Last year, Peppa was briefly banned as a search term on China’s version of TikTok, known as Douyin.
So the next time you see a Chinese thug carrying a little pink air blower down the street, you’ll know exactly why.