Zhihu, the Chinese Q&A platform (the equivalent of Quora), invited 李雪琴 Li Xueqin, a standup comedian known for being a dropout from the prestigious Peking University, to cheer for those participating in the Gaokao exam this year and to answer the question, “Does Gaokao determine your future?”
June 6th, 2021 was the first day of the annual Chinese National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), commonly known as the Gaokao (高考; lit-“Higher Education Exam”). Gaokao, the single most important exam in China, determines where students will go to college. Some even say it’s the most important factor in one’s future career and every step afterward. However, Xueqin shared the refreshing perspective that in a diversified society, with a failed Gaokao exam does not necessarily close the door to success. “一手好牌也可以被打得稀烂，只要苟住就有可能再次翻盘 (A hand well-drawn could be misplayed. Hang tough, and you may turn the corner),” said Xueqin, after she briefed her story of dropping out of Peking University.
Zhihu used a concept of “过来人 the experienced”. In China, people often call themselves “the experienced” and boast their experiences and stories at dinner tables. However, “the experienced” on Zhihu would not boast their experiences and gives pressure for others to try harder. They would share stories, good or bad, for readers to draw lessons from. They would sometimes share funny anecdotes and knowledge that just make people smile on a boring day.
The video, named “所有雪琴的答案 All Answers from Xueqin,” was released on all platforms before the Gaokao. Zhihu’s video account on WeChat has received 100,000+ likes and 100,000+ reposts for this video commercial. The concept of “躺平 lie-down/lie-flat” mentioned by Xueqin has been a hot issue since April. China’s Gen Z now uses “lie-flat” as a silent protest reaction to “内卷 involution” in China’s society and the overwhelming stress on young people. Unlike other platforms and brands who would give enthusiastic prep talks to highlight the importance of the Gaokao exam, Zhihu said it is fine to lie down and relax. In the Zhihu question board of “吾辈问答 (Q&A of Our Generation),” the question “如何评价李雪琴×知乎发布的高考应援短片《所有雪琴的答案》？How to evaluate Li Xueqin × Zhihu’s short film “All Xueqin’s Answers” released by Zhihu?” received 679,600+ views. Many netizens loved it, praising it for its honest and down-to-earth attitude. They commented that this is probably the only recent campaign that provided genuine emotional support for the stressed test-takers.
This is the third time that Zhihu came up with a Gaokao related marketing campaign. Each year around the beginning of June, stressed high school seniors would seek answers on Zhihu for various questions surrounding the most essential exam in China. There are 4.8 million discussions under the “Gaokao” topic, such as “Should I confess my love to my crush?,” “How to choose a college?,” “Should I choose by the major ranking or general raking?,” “Should I join in the Student Union?,” etc. With the heart touching commercial, Zhihu not only wants to reinforce its brand image of fostering genuine communities, but it also aims to promote its new column, named “吾辈问答 (Q&A of Our Generation).” With the column, which was recently introduced in January 2021, Zhihu would ask questions about public issues, engage celebrities, social organizations, and the general public in the conversation, and seek answers together. (Read a related article A new era of parents in China: Some of the largest spenders in the country.)
Author: Zhiting (Vanessa) Sun