Promotional videos with African kids sparking heat debate in China

Updated 2017-08-07 14:06:14 CGTN
Video purchasing page on Taobao.

Video purchasing page on Taobao.

Controversial promotional videos and photos featuring African children holding ad signs went viral on Chinese social media. Filmed mostly by Chinese in Africa, these advertisements were purchased by people to promote their products or send messages. While the kids who participated in the filming did get paid, most profits gained from those videos were taken by photographers and those who sold them.

The videos and photos can be widely found on China's largest B2C e-commerce website-Taobao. They usually show African kids holding a blackboard with customized Chinese messages on it. Messages written on the blackboard are normally promotional information or common messages, like "Happy Birthday" and "I love you".

Video sellers have said that these videos and photos were filmed by their friends in Africa.

A twenty-second video normally sells for about 220 yuan or 33 US dollars. Kids who appeared in the ads usually get a few dollars or some snacks as a reward, but most of the money goes to the photographer and video seller.

These kind of promotional videos have triggered heated debates on social media. Some people showed strong interest and expressed a willingness to purchase their own customized videos. However, others felt different saying that bringing children in these videos was a bad idea since some messages might be inappropriate for kids to say.

Video sellers defended themselves, saying that those messages wouldn't negatively affect the kids since they were all written in Chinese and the African kids filmed in the video normally don't know Chinese.

The promotional videos might be at the risk of being eliminated from the e-commerce website, if they contain illegal messages, a Taobao staff member said.

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