Lelush, the Russian man who was “held hostage” on one of China’s biggest music variety shows, Produce Camp 2021, has become the face of Luckin Coffee‘s summer iced coffee series, named YYDS (also a popular Chinese internet slang term).
The unlikely star of Produce Camp 2021 appears in advertisements with a range of Luckin Coffee’s newest products while looking suitably glum; until he is handed a coffee, that is.
He also appears to make airplane wings with his arms, before running in the background of the shot in transitions between drinks, and finally asking the camera “我可以下班吗?” or “Can I get off work?” The phrase became iconic as Lelush tried to force himself off Produce Camp 2021.
Lelush appears in the advertisement alongside Japanese friends Yuu and Amu, who also appeared on Produce Camp 2021. Lelush was actually initially tasked with teaching the pair Chinese ahead of their appearance on the show, before he was eventually spotted by one of the talent contest’s producers and asked to be a contestant (in part to satisfy a diversity quota). He subsequently went on to become one of the show’s stars, largely for his dispassionate engagement with the program’s star-making mechanics.
How a Russian Man “Held Hostage” on a Talent Show Captured the Mood of Burnout China
The collaboration between Lelush and Luckin Coffee is surprising to say the least, not just for its use of the unwilling Russian star.
The involvement of Luckin Coffee, which in 2020 was found to have faked sales, shows how the brand is gradually recovering from the financial fallout of that news, which sent its stock plunging 75%.
The company announced that it had received investment of 250 million USD in April, and has since been trending upwards on Chinese social media sites like Weibo, with some fun ads promoting products such as their coconut milk latte.
The name of this latest product, YYDS, comes from an internet slang term. YYDS is an acronym for 永远滴神 (yongyuan di shen) and is roughly equivalent to GOAT in English.
At any rate, the collaboration has already resulted in some hilarious memes:
A play on Lelush’s statement, “F is for Freedom” after he got the low grade on Produce Camp 2021
Cover image via luckincoffee瑞幸咖啡/Weibo
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