An open letter in a Guangdong newspaper appearing to be a woman’s dismissive letter to her vanquished rival in love has turned out to be a clever public relations stunt by a skin care brand.
“To the former Ms Zhang: just let go, the battle is over. Good men belong only to women who can look after themselves …” the scornful letter read, signed by a woman with a name derived from “Ms Zhang”.
The letter, published as a full page in Guangdong-based Southern Metropolis Daily on Tuesday, instantly became a hit and was quick to attract the attention of both print and online readers. Floods of internet comments indicated that the majority of online users were convinced it was a genuine letter from a woman mocking her rival in love.
“The letter is for the former Ms Zhang – apparently this is from a mistress who has successfully seized her love,” said one comment on microblog platform Sina Weibo.
But a spokeswoman of the Daily’s advertisement department on Tuesday admitted in a phone interview with the South China Morning Post that it was a commercial for a skin care brand. However, she declined to disclose the brand’s name, saying it would be a breach of their client’s confidential information.
Another employee of the newspaper added the advertisement marked only the start of a series of about half a dozen ads.
One netizen claimed the letter was an advert for mainland home-grown skin care product maker Hanhoo.
“[This is] a commercial of Hanhoo. It utilises a technique in communication studies called ‘suspense commercial’,” one online user said.
A suspense commercial usually consists of a series of advertisements that gradually complete information and attract the curiosity of consumers by keeping them in suspense.
Repeated phone calls by the South China Morning Post made to Hanhoo were not answered on Tuesday.