A Curious Case of Celebrity Endorsement in China: Mike Tyson in Beijing
   2013-09-17 14:24:37    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: ZhangPeng

Mike Tyson takes part in a "boxercise" session alongside children and adults at a promotional event for Kuaike cold medicine capsules in Beijing on September 16, 2013. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/Stuart Wiggin]

Abstract: Mike Tyson shows up in Beijing to promote cold medicine in one of the more bizarre celebrity endorsements to take place in China.

By Stuart Wiggin

Mike Tyson has been popping up all over the place in China recently, appearing on subway advertisements, setting up a new Weibo account, and causing a stir in the press following his microblog comments related to China's Chengguan; the oft-criticized civilian force tasked with policing municipal law. Alongside promoting an online role-playing game, which has nothing to do with boxing, Tyson also had time to make a bizarre appearance in Beijing on September 16, 2013, to endorse Kuaike cold medicine capsules, a product of the Hainan Asia Pharmaceuticals company.

The former heavyweight champion of the world hit the headlines in the west recently after making comments on the TODAY show in America related to his continuing alcoholism. He has since appeared on the Conan O'Brien show at the start of this month celebrating the fact that he had made it to the 20 days sober mark. In Beijing, Tyson looked healthy despite being a little unaware of exactly what he was supposed to do during the event; at one point forgetting the name of the product he was meant to be endorsing. He soon got into the swing of things, adlibbing, commending the conscientious nature of Chinese people, talking about his love for raising pigeons and coming out with a number of quips related to the speed of the product and his speed as a boxer.

It wasn't entirely clear why Tyson's image would be associated with a cold medicine although plenty of references were made to his strong health. At one point, Tyson took part in an impromptu "boxercise" session, lobbied for an advertisement deal to promote the product in the US and posed for a number of photos alongside officials from the pharmaceutical company. The event was bizarre to say the least but in an interview session following the press conference, Tyson finally got to speak out on combat sports in China, amongst the more drab questions related to his knowledge of Chinese culture and Kungfu.

On the development of boxing and fighting in general in the country, Tyson stated, "We have an Olympic champion and we also have a world champion that's in China, so that's a start already. I believe Chinese fighters are going to play a major role in the fight world too. Over the years, Shaolin martial arts have always been at the forefront of the fight world but we've never really seen them participate in any tournament, like MMA or boxing."

Having recently set up his own boxing promotion company, China would be a perfect place to test out the fighters that belong to his stable. "The dynamics of Chinese participating in fisticuffs on a grand scale is starting now. I'm glad to be involved with that, and I'm just looking forward to seeing the cultivation of the Chinese in the fight world," noted Tyson. He also shared his views on China's burgeoning mixed martial arts scene, saying, "It'll probably take a while [to develop], but eventually it's like all the guys that come in late; they have to cultivate to it. And once they're cultivated to the style and the fighting and the training, they'll be successful."

Whether or not his presence will boost the sales of Kuaike cold medicine in China, it's clear that there is a certain level of fascination in China for Tyson. He is still a household name and he will be keen to cash in on this as he continues to deal with debt problems stateside. Alongside his new boxing promotion, Iron Mike productions, Tyson has a memoir due to be published in November, a one-man touring show, and a six-part documentary series due to air on Fox. He is already a busy individual and the opportunities to make a quick buck in China will surely lead to more visits in the future. The question is, what product will he be lending his face to next?    

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