The Rise Of China’s ‘Uncle Stars’: How Middle-aged Men Are Taking The Spotlight

“Uncle stars” are regaining popularity and bypassing even young idols. Jing Daily decodes how brands can leverage these middle-aged sensations.

Across China, iQiyi’s hit Chinese crime drama The Knockout 狂飙 has become the most talked about show online in recent weeks, boasting a 9/10 score on domestic review site Douban. The series’ middle-aged male stars — Zhang Yi and Zhang Songwen — have also skyrocketed in popularity.

Unlike usual C-dramas that cast handsome young men, also known as “little fresh meat,” to gain traffic, the two main leads are both men in their mid-40s. Despite their age, wrinkles, and average looking, the actors have been making waves online since the show’s release.

Notably, 45-year-old Zhang Yi, who plays the front-line policeman named An Xin in the series, is now trending as an “ideal husband” on Weibo. Meanwhile, domestic social media platforms are flooded with GIFs of Gao Qiqiang, played by 46-year-old actor Zhang Songwen, the Chinese mafia boss in the fictional drama.

The positive reception of these middle-aged stars indicates the rise of new marketing strategies to reach local consumers looking for something different than picture perfect idols. Here, Jing Daily looks at how brands can leverage the resurgence of older male celebrities.

Middle-aged male stars are a safer option compared to young idols

EqualOcean reported that China’s idol economy was worth about $724 billion (RMB 4.94 trillion) in 2021 and will grow to $940 billion (RMB 6.42 trillion) by 2023. However, in recent years, China’s entertainment industry has been smeared by idol scandals. Luxury brands bundled with wrongdoing “little fresh meat” had to rush to terminate their endorsement contracts to avoid negative backlash, as was the case with Louis Vuitton and rapper Kris Wu. Continue to read the full article here