The Porsche Spokeswoman Who Wasn't
From Chinese Blogs, BBS and the Automobile Industry, Part 1: I-WOM Channels (by Sam Fleming at the China Word of Mouth Blog, November 31, 2006):
Industry executives, journalists, fans and self proclaimed experts have found a voice in the Chinese blogosphere, primarily on blog channels on portals such as on Sina and Sohu and blog portals like Bokee. These blogs vary in popularity and frequency of writing. As an example, Moyan Qingfen (莫言清风) Blog is written by an auto industry executive averaging about 1-2 articles a day about the industry, with some articles getting upwards of 50 comments. ...
Importance of blogs for brands: Auto blogs are important to monitor as they provide a new media channel for industry insiders and participants which can influence professionals, and to some degree, consumers who follow the industry. In our opinion, however, they are not a representative consumer media as much as BBS is.
By far, we see BBS as the most influential I-WOM channel in China. BBS is where car fans, car owners and potential owners share their love, knowledge adn problems about cars.
CIC Collected Automobile BBS Posts for September
* Number of messages collected: 3,826,853
* Number of unique posters: 93,720
* Average number of posts per day: 127,561
What does this mean? We have 3,826,853 comments written by 93,720 consumers for the month of September. These are the consumers who are already own cars or are thinking about buying cars and/or are actively discussing cars right now. ...
Importance of BBS for brands: We believe that the sheer volume of conversations about automobiles on BBS makes this channel a "must" for tracking. BBS is filled with consumers in discussions with other consumers about their experiences and opinions about owning and buying cars. Exactly what and why can and should brands be tracking? That will be the subject of upcoming posts.
Not all blog/BBS posts are equal to others, as some are more influential, impactful and popular than others. Here is an example of one very popular automotive post (Phoenix TV):
[Pretty Female Writer E Yanyan
The Totally Nude Spokesperson for Porsche]
Name: E Yanyan
Personality Characteristics: Smart, Ambitious, Vivacious, Brave, Emotional
What I Want To Do Most: Sleep, Eat and Then Have Crazy Ideas Like Garfield
Favorite Singer: Britney Spears
Favorite Actress: Angelina Jolie
Hobbies: Swimming, Body Building, Music
Most Embarrassing Thing: Tripped on the street on Dragon Boat Festival Day
Birth Day: August 1st
Blood Type: A
Height: 166 cm
Weight 45 kg
Chest: 89cm; Waist 56 cm; Hips 89cm
Profession: Full-time actress; Pretty Female Writer
So this was self-promotion by a previously unknown actress who has suddenly become quite well-known on account of these photographs. From the point of Porsche, what will they do? On one hand, this is free publicity that would probably cost a lot to generate on their own. On the other hand, this may not be the ideal brand image that Porsche wants to communicate.
Here is how a newspaper tried to sort it out (Xinmin Net via 163.com):
On the afternoon of November 2, we contacted Ms. Sun of the Public Relations Department at Porsche (China). Ms. Sun told us that the Internet item has nothing to do with Porsche (China) and she declined to comment on our other questions for the moment. She asked us to continue to communicate with her through email.
On the morning of November 3, Ms. Sun replied via email: "This group of photographs had not been arranged by us. At this time, Porsche (China) has no comment on the matter. As for the brand image spokesperson, Porsche does not have one in China at this time. If If we should ever apponit a brand image spokesperson, we will formally notify all our media friends."
Subsequently, we linked up with Mr. Wu, who is the manager of E Yanyan. Mr. Wu denied that the nude photographs had any connection to Porsche and he denied that E Yanyan is a spokeswoman for Porsche. "This was a complete misinterpretation. Perhaps some over-enthusiastic netizens were mistaken."
According to information, this collection of nude photographs came from the promotional posters for the cover girls of a certain newspaper earlier this year. E Yanyan was the real star, whereas Porsche was only incidental. There is no relationship between E Yanyan and Porsche.
So who got what out of this whole thing? Somehow it does not seem as if anyone was upset.