China has been cracking down on wayward artistes and it’s been causing waves in the entertainment industry. Most known figures are working to keep their head down. However, it seems that the public has found a new target, and not without reason.
Host of variety show “Happy Camp (快乐大本营)” Li Weijia (李维嘉) has not been making people happy. Citizens have been accusing Li of being involved in fraud. In fact, they were upset enough to stand outside the TV station to call attention to it!
Yesterday (8th September), photographs and videos of people standing outside the Hunan TV station went viral. The group all wore white T-shirts with the phrase “Li Weijia (is) a wicked artist!” on them. Videos showed the group shouting things like, “Where is your conscience?” and “Pay back my hard-earned money!”
Netizens soon revealed the reason behind the scene. Apparently, Li had endorsed a certain milk tea brand called “Happy Formula” which had defrauded its franchisees. There were claims that Li knew about the other party’s deceit but continued endorsing it anyway. “Don’t be fooled anymore,” one netizen begged. They also accused the tea promoted by the talk show “Mars Intelligence Agency (火星情报局)” of being an investment scam. “Please help expose this and bring it to light,” the netizen said.
The milk tea brand “Happy Formula” officially opened a shop in Guangzhou on 12th September 2020. At the time, the brand declared Li as their brand ambassador. In October 2020, the brand stated on their official Weibo account that they would be cooperating with “Happy Camp”. Since then, the brand has supposedly gained over 2000 franchisees in China. According to one franchisee, they opted to follow the brand as there was a famous host endorsing it. However, many of the stores are now closed.
Although most netizens were furious with Li, there were netizens that protested his innocence, firmly believing in their idol. According to the pro-Li group, the “Happy Camp” host apparently terminated his contract with the brand a long time age. They also accused the franchisees of attempting to blackmail Li for money. “I don’t understand why the former spokesperson (Li) should be held responsible. Shouldn’t the police be called first?” one netizen asked.
So far, Li, “Happy Camp” and Hunan TV have not made a statement regarding the issue. Li’s scandal is just another case in the recent slew of incidents involving various idols and stars. Some are worried that if these cases are not dealt with soon, the entertainment sector will face a major crisis.
Update (9th September):
Li Weijia finally posted a response on his Weibo today. The host acknowledged he had signed an agreement to be the brand ambassador from 1st September 2020 to 31 August 2021. However, after learning that the situation had changed in May, he opted to cancel the cooperation. Li has been actively coordinating and handling matters since May. He apologised for occupying public resources and asked the franchisees to “express their reasonable demands through legal channels and means“.