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Chinese Blockchain Conference Under Fire After Actor Imitates Former Leader

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:08 PM
Shaurya Malwa
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:08 PM

While a few cryptocurrency projects are infamous for displaying ostentatious marketing efforts to generate hype, the strategy is seemingly being picked up by organizers of blockchain conferences as well. However, the harmless efforts can sometimes swing the other way, as organizers of a Chinese blockchain event learned on Monday.

Marketing Gone too Far?

The 2018 edition of Boao Blockchain Conference, held at Hainan Island in China, caught itself  on the wrong foot after a political gimmick – in which a local actor was dressed up to play the part of Mao Zedong, China’s most famous leader.

Naturally, citizens were unimpressed, and the move led to huge public outcry and criticism – questioning the organizers’ intent and sanity – in addition to being subject to a potential breach of relevant laws.

As it stands, the Boao forum hired the actor to imitate Mao congratulating the event and wishing the blockchain projects success. 

“I sincerely wish this conference a great success…and I want to thank you in the name of Mao Zedong,” the actor said.

Laws Prohibit Move

According to the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) in China, any representation, image, calligraphy, or statement pertaining to present and former national leaders for the means of commercial products is strictly disallowing, with those found guilty facing hefty fines or prison.

Reportedly, the organizer apologized for the undertaking, and said in a WeChat post:

“We are sorry for the negative impact our conference had on the public, and we will continue to execute the conference with high standards.”

However, enraged industry participants are turning a deaf ear to his apologies, calling the move “manipulative” and “deceiving.”

Industry Observers Shoot Down Gimmick

Project managers also shot down the marketing techniques used by blockchain conferences, which are regularly held at famous venues to lend a degree of legitimacy and trust to the event.

The managers also observed the blockchain event’s stage setup, venue, and marketing design was identical to the official Boao forum – a high-profile political, economic, and financial event featuring top government leaders.

“You invited chairman Mao, are you not paying respects to our current leader president Xi,” an investor who requested anonymity stated. “All blockchain conferences please fully disclose all speakers and actors invited to attend in order for us to support you.”

The show is still going on for another day, as the event is scheduled to end on May 29. However, it is unclear what police action has been taken yet, and if it would affect the remaining day of the event.

Mao Zedong image from Shutterstock.