Every year when March 15 rolls around, global brands active in China wait in fear to see which companies will be “named and shamed” on Chinese TV network CCTV’s annual Consumer Rights Day “3.15 Gala.” While the program that selects brands to accuse of misleading behaviors has received its own fair share of criticism for accuracy, data shows that it’s certainly grabbing the attention of consumers.
This year, sportswear brand Nike found itself in the crosshairs as it was accused of false advertising on air cushions in its “Hyperdunk” basketball shoes, and there was a significant spike in digital activity on the brand after the show’s airing: its Baidu Index, or score of public interest on China’s largest search engine, shot up by 213% on the day the show aired and climbed by another 47% the next day.The spike is illustrated in the chart below:
Although the program clearly generates interest in the brands targeted, the tangible fallout for companies varies. Nike and Japanese retailer Muji, another brand criticized this year, both saw stock declines after the show aired, but Nike’s stock prices bounced back by the end of Wednesday. In previous years, companies including Apple and Nikon have ended up releasing apologies in response to criticisms, and Volkswagen recalled 384,000 vehicles in 2013 after the show reported on gearbox malfunctioning.
Not all consumers take the show seriously as it has received criticism for “scaremongering” and falsifying claims. This year, Shanghai’s food safety agency came out and said there was no evidence for the claims against Muji, while there are also allegations that photos used as evidence in the Nike report were found from the internet and not actually submitted by a consumer. There has also been evidence of KOLs possibly being paid off to create the impression of “spontaneous” commentary criticizing the brands—in 2013, an actor criticizing Apple after the program accidentally forgot to delete instructions on what time to publish the post.
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