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BUZZWORDS | Can Brands "Go Mad" on Social Media?

Customers play a big role in decisions, driven by how they feel and what they like. Emotional marketing is crucial for building strong connections with them. The recent "mad literature (发疯文学)" is a good example of emotional marketing strategy.

In this article, we will explore how to incorporate "mad literature" into your emotional marketing strategy to make your brand more appealing and engage consumers in spreading the word about it.


Deciphering "Mad Literature (发疯文学)"

The eye-catching feature of "mad literature" is its highly exaggerated and emotionally intense nature. It uses chaotic words, emojis, videos, and more to express feelings of frustration. Especially for Generation-Z, they are good at using social media, actively participating in the "madness," and venting about pressures from school, work, relationships, and family. These contents always break the conventional way of expression, revealing emotions, and grabbing the attention of Internet users who eagerly follow and share.

When we search "mad literature" on Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book), we can find various amusing posts, and Xiaohongshu has categorized these posts, covering work, love, studies, and other areas. Both brands and individuals can use the categorized sections on Xiaohongshu to share corresponding posts about "mad literature." Thus, "mad literature" has become one of the distinctive contents on Xiaohongshu.

▲ Image via Xiaohongshu

Individuals or organizations utilize the categorized mad literature posts on Xiaohongshu to promote certain content


Case Study: KFC's "Crazy Thursdays"

KFC's "Crazy Thursdays" is a classic example of "mad literature" over the years. Every Thursday, KFC offers special discounts and menus. Users voluntarily post "mad" content on social media like WeChat and Xiaohongshu, incorporating words related to KFC products. This user-generated content strategy makes users associate Thursdays with KFC, establishing an emotional connection between consumers and the brand.

▲ Image via WeChat

Users regularly "go mad" in WeChat group chats every Thursday, subtly incorporating words related to KFC within their conversations


Brands Unleash Their "Mad" Side on Social Media

Spes, a well-known Chinese shampoo brand, went "mad" on Weibo. It all started when Taobao was going to award the "Golden Peach Prize" to brands with sales performance exceeding one million. Spes found out they were just 20,000 sales short of reaching one million in sales performance. The brand went "mad" in the comments of Taobao's official Weibo, humorously comparing the peach-shaped trophy to a "butt". This comment made the audience laugh, and they eagerly joined in this "mad" engagement.

▲ Image via Taobao (Weibo)

The shampoo brand Spes expressed strong disappointment on Taobao humorously

What was the result? Taobao awarded Spes the "Golden Butt Award" to recognize their 980,000 sales performance and encouraged them to strive for the one million sales goal. At the same time, Taobao issued a statement: "This trophy is inspired by a peach, symbolizing wealth and auspiciousness, not a butt."

The audience commented, "'Going mad' really works."

▲ Image via Taobao (Weibo)

Taobao gave Spec the "Golden Butt Award" and clarified in a statement that the award's design was inspired by a peach, not a butt

In addition, other brands that didn't win awards but still performed well also joined in this "mad" event, achieving brand exposure and engagement.

▲ Image via Taobao (Weibo)

Other non-winning brands also joined the madness


Pitfalls of "Mad Literature"

The Florasis Fiasco

The purpose of "mad literature" is to let the audience release and dispel negative emotions. For example, brands can combine "mad literature" with themes like workplace and relationships to resonate with the audience. However, "madness" does not mean taking extreme actions.

Austin Li, a top e-commerce influencer in China, and the Chinese cosmetics brand Florasis, which he closely collaborates with, fell into a public relations crisis due to the misuse of "mad literature." In one livestream, a viewer questioned the high price of Florasis's eyebrow pencil. Austin Li's response was to suggest that the viewer should reflect on whether they work hard enough to make more money. This response lacked respect for the consumers and led to a rapid drop in Austin Li's followers. At the same time, viewers used the sarcastic phrase "1 Florasis coin = 79 RMB" to represent the high price of Florasis's products.

Florasis, closely tied with Austin Li, attempted to use "mad literature" to regain attention and restore the brand's reputation during this public relations crisis. Unfortunately, Florasis's efforts did not pay off and instead brought the brand even bigger problem:

● Florasis launched a promotion to give away eyebrow pencils, but Florasis claimed that they were giving away "Florasis coins". This negative term was used by consumers for sarcasm and should not be used by a brand official account. Florasis's post made consumers even more angry.

▲ Image via Florasis (Weibo)

Florasis tried to regain reputation through giveaways, but inappropriately used the term "Florasis coin," causing discontent among the audience

● After the incident, Florasis kept emphasizing the brand's advantages and efforts. They were criticized by consumers for being more focused on self-promotion than addressing the previous doubts about the brand's culture.

▲ Image via Florasis (Weibo)

Following the PR crisis, Florasis highlighted his impact as a rising Chinese brand and his contributions to local products and social welfare. Yet, this failed to appease the audience

● Florasis's subsequent collaboration with gymnast Oksana Aleksandrovna Chusovitina on the "Oriental Aesthetic" makeup look was highly criticized by consumers for not aligning with the brand image and possibly degrading Chusovitina's appearance.

▲ Image via Internet

Florasis's collaboration with Chusovitina faced criticism for not reflecting Eastern aesthetics or emphasizing Chusovitina's unique beauty. The choice of spokesperson also greatly clashed with the brand image

Florasis could have honestly answered viewers' questions or quietly improved the product quality as a response to the criticism of the high product price. After the incident, carefully selecting a spokesperson and makeup look that aligned with the brand image could have also promoted positive communication with consumers.

However, Florasis's repeated attention-grabbing moves made consumers question once again: has Florasis really "gone mad"?


Double V Tip

Mastering "Mad Literature"

When brands adopt "mad literature" as their communication strategy, please remember the following key principles:

I. Maintain a serious attitude during critical moments; respond sincerely to brand crises to alleviate negative feedback.

II. Maintain professionalism; ensure that brand style and content output remain consistent.

III. "Mad Literature" is more suitable for products with entertainment and social attributes.

Following these principles, brands can use the emotionally compelling nature of "mad literature" to amplify their brand's influence and attract a broader audience.


Double V Consulting understands the subtle cultural nuances in the Chinese-speaking world with extensive marketing experience, and a deep understanding of the diversity and vibrancy of the Chinese market. We will be your ideal partner for social media marketing in China.

Contact us and start your brand journey on Chinese social media!


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