Zoneco stock surges with hiring of internet celebrity endorser

Published on
March 26, 2020

An internet celebrity endorser has been hired to tout the products of troubled seafood firm Zoneco.

Li Jiaqi is one of China’s best-known social media influencers, and his endorsement of Zoneco was covered by conventional and financial media.

Li used his “Kou Hong Yi Ge” video channel on Douyin, a TikTok type social media platform, to sell 50 packets of Zoneco-flavored scallop meals – in one minute. The products were sold as a special Women’s Day offering with the packs of minced garlic and sweet and spicy flavors retailing at a special price of CNY 21.80 (USD 3.05, EUR 2.83) each.

That feat, publicized by Zoneco on its own Weibo channel, was enough to excite investors, who in a rabid day of trading for the stock on 12 March, added CNY 600 million (USD 84 million, EUR 78 million) to Zoneco’s market capitalization. Trading in Zoneco’s stock was suspended an unprecedented three times on the day after the share price exceeded the allowable rise permitted by the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, where Zoneco is listed.

The move reversed Zoneco’s recent financial misfortune after it announced a collapse in profits in March.

Internet celebrities have become a favorite tool of seafood marketing agencies in China for local brands and for exporters. Li Jiaqi has 40 million followers on Douyin and claims to have earned USD 29 million (EUR 27 million) in 2019 from endorsement fees. While he made his name promoting beauty products – hence his channel name, “lipstick king” – he has also worked for Jinzhi Ham, a pork meat brand.

Zoneco hasn’t disclosed how much it paid Li Jiaqi, but internet endorsers earn according to the size of their audience and the demographic and some look for a percentage of the sales they generate, a Beijing-based marketing executive told SeafoodSource.    

Another Internet celebrity endorser, Xiao Yu Lu, was chosen by Ireland’s food promotion board Bord Bia to reach a cohort of middle class and female customers aged between 25 and 35.

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