• The Fighting Boys

The Fighting Boys (Photo : Twitter/TFB)

The Fighting Boys, a popular boy band in China, spent more than $15 million on ads to greet Karry Wang, the band’s lead singer, when he celebrated his 17th birthday a few months ago. In Times Square in New York alone, they booked 11 giant screens to greet him.

But New York is just one city they booked giant screens. The boy band also purchased outdoor ad space in Paris, Seoul, Beijing, Taipei and Reykjavik. In addition, The Fighting Boys also placed Karry’s face on a helicopter and light rail train in China, Adage reported.

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Ad Campaigns on Crowdsourcing Platforms

The ads were partly paid by fans of the boy band who finance ad campaigns on crowdsourcing platforms. It may not necessarily be cash donations but could include selling of T-shirts or publishing coffee table books made up of fan-shot photos. It also includes charitable donations by the planting of trees by fans, donations made to animal shelters chosen by celebrities, free music lessons to school children and other causes which they believe would make their idols happy.

With China’s population of 1.4 billion people, online fan clubs have a sufficient number of members to pool together their money to buy ad spaces for their idols. The aim of the ads is to ensure that more people would know about their favorite celebrity. “They’re willing to spend money or a lot of time to help particular celebrities or groups build their influence,” Ruey Ku, the general manager in greater China for Publicis Media Content, said.

Mothers’ Fan Clubs

Not all fan clubs, especially for male celebrities who are called “fresh meat,” are made up of screaming teenage girls. Some fans clubs are made of mothers like Liang Shanshan, an avid fan of The Fighting Boys, whose band members are also known as mama’s boys, Business Times reported.

She belongs to a group of women in their mid-20s to 60s whose maternal instincts were triggered by the TFB. Liang insisted their fandom is not shallow because they intend to follow the life of one TFB member to whom they are drawn because of the boy’s wholesome values and angel-like persona, unlike teen female fans who often like their idols because of the celebrities’ handsome faces.

If fans spent money to greet Karry Wang on giant billboards, they celebrated the birthday of TFB member Jackson Yi in November by flying a hot air balloon shaped like a cake over New York and held a party on a Shanghai cruise ship.