Stephen Hawking, China’s New Internet Celebrity – Which Brands Should Use Him?


We are always on the look out for new celebrities in China, so we can help client tell their brands’ stories.  But the latest internet celebrity has taken us by surprise – we salute you Stephen Hawking, legend!

This week, physicist Stephen Hawking launched his Weibo account – China’s version of Twitter.  Let’s just say – it created a bit of a ‘big bang theory’ on China’s internet.

Chinese netizen’s were very keen to read Stephen’s post in English, with an accurate Chinese translation.  His first post was on his previous experiences and memories of China.  His second was more theoretical, discussing new findings on the universe.   The ‘big bang’ on this post was more than three million likes.

Comments on his posts – included physics questions, learning English …  but also romantic advice.

Active interaction on Steven Hawking's Weibo

Steven Hawking’s Weibo posts created a ‘big bang’.

Now, from a marketing perspective, this is big.  Up there with Chinese model Liu Wen, and teen idol Lu Han – Stephen is, as Zoolander’s Mukato would say “so hot right now!”(in China).

So which brands should be looking to leverage Stephen Hawkings’ Weibo power in China.
Here are a few thoughts from the SMART team.

Star Wars Franchise – Going Deeper on the Story of Space

As a new movie franchise in China, Star Wars could leverage Hawking’s multi-dimensional approach to the universe – putting intergalactic warfare in context for new fans, perhaps through using their old physics textbooks.

Ponds Skin Care – A True Romance

The skin-care brand that brings you powerful stories of ‘ultimate love’, should not go past the romance of Stephen and his wive, Jane Wild.  Arguably, this would help the brand ‘premiumize’ for the Chinese market.

Google Artificial Intelligent  – Can you beat beat Stevie H

Google has created buzz with their Alpha Go A.I. Chinese chess player who defeated the South Korean world champion – Lee Se-dol.   But the ultimate challenge would be a head-to-head with Hawking in “4th dimensional chess” – and if Google manage to defeat his intelligence, Hawking would be humble enough to talk about it on Weibo

Omega – The Real Eddie, or the Real Steven

The watch brand has signed actor/model Eddie Redmayne as their global ambassador.  Including Hawking alongside Redmayne would provide an interesting insight into the artistic process of ‘studying a master” – something applicable to the mastery that contributes to fine watchmaking.

We will continue to watch the rise of Hawking’s Weibo fame on Chinese internet.
It is an interesting phenomena, that reminds us that social platforms in China are still anchored in the pursuit of new knowledge.



About Author

Jerry Clode

Jerry Clode is Head of Digital & Social Insight at Resonance. He leads Resonance SMART, providing leading-edge research, strategy and naming for brands in China using bespoke methodologies. Jerry also produces Resonance's popular China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly publication covering modern marketing methods of the world's top brands.

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