Low wages. Poor prospects. Constant pressure. Chinese youth are coping with their tough circumstances by adopting a bleak outlook on life known as sang. Manifested in memes, pop culture and self-deprecating consumerism, how can brands use this worldview to connect with struggling citizens?
In China, calling someone a diaosi – which directly translates as ’penis hair’ – isn’t an insult. On the contrary, millions of Chinese in dead-end jobs, with no car, house or girlfriend identify with the term, wearing it as a badge of honour. But could self-deprecation be a danger to society?
Mascots have long been used to front brands in Japan, but Gudetama – a lazy anthropomorphic egg – is a far cry from the cutesy characters typically seen. It now appears on around 1,700 items, boasting its own Twitter feed and pop-up cafés, but how has it won the hearts of people nationwide?
As male depression gains broader public attention and young women adopt a ‘sad aesthetic’ online, brands are being challenged to consider how they communicate to an emotionally charged society. How can they help people in their quest for inner happiness and free expression?
Memes are part of the fabric of internet culture. But at a time when there’s such a disparity between reality and social media perfection, the subversion of the classic meme format reflects a shift in how people express themselves digitally. How do nihilist memes show the silver lining of sadness?