The Weekly Buzz: Bawang Innovates with Microblogs During Time of Crisis

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Below is from the column “The Weekly Buzz” we will be regularly submitting to Campaign Asia. It makes use of our IWOM discover tool. If you drop me a mail at sam at cicdata dotcom, I am happy to have the team open up a trial account for you.

This week, we have Bawang making waves with its use of Weibo as a crisis comm channel.

Bawang innovates with microblogs during time of crisis : CIC

For more on social media and crisis in China, check out our archives here.


campaign Asia-Pacific

For the last couple of weeks, famous local Chinese shampoo brand Bawang has been embroiled in a crisis around the chemical cancer causing ingredient, and its alleged use in the shampoo at unsafe levels. Beginning on July 14, Hong Kong and mainland China media reported extensively about the issue.

Any issue that involves chemicals in products that you put in or on your body are especially buzz worthy in China and have been for many years as a quick review of some of the biggest internet driven crisis in China’s history shows:

  • Teflon and cancer in 2004
  • KFC chicken wings and sudan red coloring and cancer in 2005
  • SKI-II and chromium in 2006
  • Sanlu infant milk formula and melamine in 2008

Bawang has the added ‘benefit’ of having Jackie Chan and Faye Wang strongly associated with the brand, appearing on ads and packaging. Questions of their responsibilities further fueled discussion.


What’s most interesting in this particular crisis is the role of microblogs, in particular Sina Weibo, the ‘Twitter’ of China.

Within hours of the crisis hitting the Chinese web, Bawang set up an official Weibo account which it used as its primary crisis communications channel.

The importance of Weibo as the key viral component of the crisis, as well as Bawang’s use of Weibo can be seen in the fact that Weibo accounted for over half of the mentions, according to CIC’s IWOMdiscover tracking tool.

Whether Weibo is actually an effective choice as a crisis communications tool is questionable, but clearly the influence of Weibo is there and brands will need to consider how to track and utilise in the ever evolving Chinese social media landscape.

Posted by   @   27 July 2010 0 comments
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