One of China’s biggest dating websites Baihe.com probably never imagined their seemingly smart and touching TV advertisement would backfire and lead to an online protest.
In an effort to promote its offline dating service store, Beihe released a commercial on TV during Chinese New Year. The holiday for family reunions is also a frustrating period for many Chinese singles as the attention and pressure surrounding personal matters from the whole family is simply unbearable. So Baihe’s 30-second commercial comes right in time.
It’s about a young single woman who finally gets married for the sake of her dying grandma. Her grandma asks whether she’s getting married each time she goes back home regardless of her successful academic and career achievements. The title reads: Because of love, I won't wait. The commercial only sends one message: Whether or not it’s the right person, as long as you get married, you have fulfilled the family's wish, your personal wish and happiness should be subordinated to the family.
The commercial has triggered a lot of complaints online, saying it’s trying to promote wrong marriage values by taking advantage of family kinship. On Feb 6 2014, netizen “Cai Puning” organized a campaign on Sina Weibo to protest against Baihe. Within less than two days, over 7 million people joined the campaign. They urged that the commercial should be banned and the Baihe website should apologize to the netizens.
One netizen “Lao Chao” commented on Weibo:
Before the dying old grandmother who cries urgently for her marriage, the girl rushed into marriage, and a lively life has become a sacrifice of family kinship. This is the most horrible and ungrateful ad I've ever seen.
Another netizen “Gongda Houyuaner” is more concerned about the gender inequality the commercial conveys:
Actually forced marriage is not so objectionable, but the expression of gender discrimination throughout annoys me. [The society] denies her academic career, and only recognizes the value of her marriage.