One of China’s most renowned coconut milk brands, Hainan-based Coconut Palm, is once drawing attention over a tacky campaign on the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin.
The livestream occurred during China’s week-long National Day holiday and featured curvy women in tight-fitting clothes dancing provocatively to promote the brand’s coconut beverages.
The campaign quickly went viral on Weibo, with a related hashtag gaining more than 42 million views and sparking a tidal wave of comments.
Coconut Palm’s livestream on Douyin. Clip via Weibo
“How can the CEO not understand? Those who buy Coconut Palm do it because it’s tasty, not because of the advertising!” reads a comment with almost 7,000 likes.
Others have dismissed haters by saying that the campaign wasn’t that provocative: “During the summer, I see many women on the street wearing much less than this.”
Hilda Yu, a Shanghai-based 30-year-old who works in advertising, finds Coconut Palm’s marketing approach interesting rather than offensive.
“It’s clearly geared towards second- and third-tier cities. I am not their target, but I remember drinking [their coconut milk] with my dad whenever we went for dinner,” she tells RADII.
This is not the first time the company has sparked a debate. In 2019, Coconut Palm faced backlash after championing a controversial slogan: “Drinking (Coconut Palm) from childhood to now (从小喝到大),” which can be interpreted as “From small to big by drinking.” To many, it was an apparent reference to the curves of the voluptuous woman featured on the beverage’s packaging, actress Raquel Xu.
Coconut Palm’s classic packaging. Image via Weibo
In addition to essentially alluding that the beverage enhances breast size, the company has claimed that consuming coconut milk makes for a fairer complexion.
After being called out by consumers for false marketing claims and approving sexually-charged ads, Coconut Palm finally admitted that its products had no impact on breast size and was fined twice by local authorities.
Whether or not it was intentional, Coconut Palm’s recent advertisement taps into a global trend, one that even Chinese American fashion designer Alexander Wang went for with his last fashion campaign: Though divisive, Douyin-inspired ‘tacky advertising’ often goes viral on social media. And at the end of the day, that’s what brands want: widespread attention and online hype.
All images via Weibo