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new Russian idol in China

Luckin Coffee partners with famously unenthusiastic foreign pop idol, Lelush from Russia

On May 10th, Luckin Coffee, a tech-forward domestic coffee chain, officially announced a new collaboration with one of the most talked about idols in China, Lelush (利路修). Luckin released a video entitled “Luckin YYDS” via their social media, where Lelush was seen with his Japanese competitors Hanyuda Amu (はにうだあむ) and Liu Yu (リュウユ) for Produce Camp 2021, also named Chuang 2021 (创造营2021). Luckin’s official video subsequently reached 1.3 million views on Douyin and 29.8 million views on their official WeChat page.

Lelush x Luckin
Source: Luckin WeChat Official, Video of Lelush x Luckin campaign, 2021

In this ad, Lelush had been testing new drinks from Luckin coffee, namely the Ice Salty Cheese Newer Latte (冰海蓝之士厚乳拿铁), Brown Sugar Boba Latte (新款西柚冰族卒), Iced Coconut Milk Latte (冰生椰奶拿铁) and the Meteorite Latte (陨石拿铁). The campaign slogan for 2021 was “YYDS”- which is an abbreviation made up of the first letters of each word in the phrase 永远滴神 yǒng yuǎn dī shén, meaning “The greatest of all time” or “Forever God”. This originated from the famous eSports player Shiny Ruo, who shouts out “Uzi 永远的神” (Uzi yǒnɡyuǎn de shén) to his idol Uzi, a retired League of Legends player. In English, there is a similar slogan ‘G.O.A.T’, meaning – Greatest of All Time.

Lelush x Luckin campaign
Source: Xiaohongshu, Lelush x Luckin campaign, 2021

Additionally, Luckin released a second video with Lelush, where the pop idol promoted the Luckin Coffee express coffee machine, which is automated to brew coffee. In this video, Lelush explains in Chinese how coffee can be purchased through the Luckin Mini Program or Luckin Coffee APP with a 9.9% discount on multiple coffees, and that it was available in various Chinese cities.

Ruixin coffee
Source: Luckin Official WeChat, Ruixin coffee, Lelush x Luckin campaign, 2021

Who is Lelush and why are Chinese netizens so crazy for his bland attitude?

Lelush (利路修) was born Vladislav Igorevich Sidorov in 1994, in the city of Ussuriysk, Russia.  Starting in 2015, he studied in the south of China. Then in 2021, Sidorov was invited to work as a Japanese translator for Amu and Yu for the Produce Camp 2021 competition. As fate would have it, Sidorov was suddenly invited to participate in the competition as a singer. This experience made ‘Lelush’ very popular among the Chinese youth and instantly turned a simple Russian man into a star.

Produce Camp 2021
Source: Xiaohongshu, Lelush in the Produce Camp 2021

Produce Camp 2021, produced by Tencent Video, is a variety show consisting of an international boy group formation. It is dedicated to fully showing the stage performance, vigor and persistence of youngsters in the new age.

pop idols in China
Source: Xiaohongshu, The Produce Camp 2021

Sang Culture丧文化: a boring attitude or a new form of protest?

Among 101 members, Lelush has earned the status of the most unusual member among the entirety of the show’s audience. His unwillingness to take part only fueled public interest in him. He was distinguished by his pessimism, as well as his bluntness, saying that he was tired and did not want to participate anymore.

 Lelush from Russia
Source: Xiaohongshu, Lelush in the Produce Camp 2021

Lelush’s trademark is ‘我可以下班吗?’, which can be translated as ‘Can I get off work?’. Thanks to this phrase, Lelush became the personification of “Sang Culture” 丧文化. Sang Culture can be associated with the notions of mourning and death for Chinese millennials’ culture concept, thus rendering the idea of having a boring attitude towards life.

In addition to active viewers of the show, Lelush has also become an icon to employees of Chinese companies who work based on the 996 work ethic (from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 6 days a week). Many people coming from and understanding this work culture supported Lelush in the comments.

Brands seize the opportunity to ride the hype wave with the young star

Source: Xiaohongshu, #Lelush

Participation in the competition brought unprecedented popularity to the apathetic Lelush. His popularity was expressed through a large number of subscribers: Xiaohongshu with 36 million followers, Douyin 876.5 million followers and Weibo 3.3 million followers. Only a month had passed since the end of Produce Camp 2021, but Lelush had already managed to campaign with Luckin, and also collaborated with well-known brands such as Figgaro, L’officiel, Fendi, Fine Up, and Moody among many others.

Author: Erkeaiym Kylymbekova

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daxue consulting-digital marketing China