Douyin, the ByteDance-owned short video app, will replace Pinduoduo as the sole sponsor of the digital red packet event that is held by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV during the 2021 Spring Festival gala, 36Kr reported on Friday.
State radio CRI informed in September that Pinduoduo would be the sole sponsor of the red packets. The change came after recent negative media coverage on the social commerce giant, related to the death of a 22-year-old female worker after a late-work shift in December and, shortly after, the suicide of another male employee of the same age.
“Pinduoduo is now in the eye of the storm, so CCTV certainly wanted to keep distance from them, since the state media never lacks sponsors for its Spring Festival Gala,” Ming Lu, an analyst with Aequitas Research, told KrASIA on Monday.
The gala, which runs several hours on the eve of the lunar new year until well after midnight, is one of the world’s most watched TV shows and has in the past few years been leveraged by a slew of internet companies for their marketing activities.
Short video app Kuaishou sponsored the 2020 gala spending RMB 1 billion (USD 150 million), while aiming to boost the number of daily active users to 300 million. Baidu supported the event in 2019, which helped to accelerate the traffic of the company’s apps, CFO Herman Yu said when it released earnings for the first quarter that year.
Pinduoduo initially planned to use this year’s CCTV gala to promote its new payment service Duoduo Pay and grocery group-buying unit Duoduo Maicai, according to 36Kr. Neither Pinduoduo nor ByteDance have replied to KrASIA‘s request for comment.