Why TikTok is obsessed with memes of China’s Donghua Jinlong glycine


What’s 2024’s hottest product? According to TikTok, there is just one reply: industrial-grade glycine from China.

Yes, you learn that proper. A Chinese producer of the amino acids, Donghua Jinlong, has discovered surprising on-line fame, with its earnest advertising and marketing movies inspiring parodies garnering many tens of millions of views and spawning a brand new meme.

“I’m kinda a glycine girly at the moment,” one fan mentioned on X. “Don’t even talk to me before I’ve had my donghua jinlong industrial grade glycine,” one other mentioned.

It all began with mundane advertising and marketing posts from the corporate’s TikTok account, involving an upbeat voice-over extolling the corporate’s campus and “premium” manufacturing processes. The advertisements present B-roll footage from Donghua Jinlong’s manufacturing facility flooring, backed with instrumentals and overlaid with daring fonts. The firm’s slogan states its mission humbly: “Glycine comes from here.”

The joke’s punchline lies in its nicheness: Glycine is an amino acid product utilized in industrial portions to provide pesticides, amongst different makes use of, and most of the people don’t must supply it often. According to specialists on web tradition, the development displays the surreal sense of humor that many Gen Z web customers have developed, partly in response to the more and more algorithm-driven curation of social media feeds.

“You never know where memes will emerge from,” mentioned Idil Galip, a lecturer in digital tradition at Amsterdam University, in a phone interview Tuesday. “The more surreal the memes, the more interesting they become. The more niche they are, the more people want to know what the meme is.”

“The sincere, earnest marketing strategy of this company really opened itself up to people making fun of its random sincerity about glycine,” she added.

A spokeswoman for Donghua Jinlong mentioned it is perplexed by its fame within the United States, which was by no means half of its advertising and marketing technique.

“We are so happy and grateful that our advertisement has got so much love. But to be honest, I was more baffled than excited,” Chen Liya, an workplace administrator on the firm, mentioned in a phone interview Tuesday, including that the unique ads had been produced by an exterior advertising and marketing company.

“We hoped it could show up on the timeline of some potential customers. But going viral in America has never been part of the plan.”

Chen mentioned that a number of days in the past, a “young American guy” even confirmed up on the firm’s manufacturing facility in Shijiazhuang, northern China: “He was curious what kind of magic we have,” she mentioned. “We gave him a campus tour and told him that we supply glycine to businesses on an industrial scale and have not dealt with individual buyers before.”

Donghua Jinlong sells industrial-grade glycine as a “white crystal powder” for makes use of in pesticide manufacturing, water remedy and the electronics trade.

The agency advertises on TikTok, which is not accessible in China, as a result of it exports internationally, together with to Japan and throughout Europe, Chen mentioned. It’s not on Douyin, China’s model of TikTok, as a result of Donghua Jinlong already accounts for round a 3rd of glycine manufacturing capability in China, and “we don’t need advertisement for the domestic market,” she mentioned.

According to Know Your Meme, parodies of the glycine advertisements began going viral in “early 2024.” By mid-April, the trickle had become a flood and entered the web’s mainstream. Now, nobody can get sufficient of the amino acid product.

A recurring theme of the parodies is the Donghua Jinlong’s obvious superiority in comparison with its industrial rivals. “I just can’t do it with these cheap imitators of Donghua Jinlong’s industrial and food grade glycine,” lamented one TikTok person. “They’ve been doing it for years. They’ve perfected their formula. Like, why are we trying to imitate art?” Another feigned combating off tears after admitting that she’d inadvertently purchased an “identical knockoff” product with out realizing.

In one video considered greater than 2 million occasions, a deadpan TikTok person encourages customers to purchase the corporate’s nonindustrial glycine. “This is 2024. Donghua Jinlong’s production standards have just been through the roof. I’m telling you — just try out their pharmaceutical-grade glycine one time, and let me know what you think about it.”

It is, of course, a joke. According to Chen, Donghua Jinlong can not export the product to the United States as a result of of commerce restrictions.

Galip mentioned that this type of area of interest humor is a deliberate response to the best way social media feeds have modified over the previous 10 years, changing into more and more curated by algorithms and limiting the management that customers have over the content material they see.

“Previously you chose the content you followed and saw, but due to these systems, we get in contact with places that we may not normally engage with,” she mentioned.

“Most of the culture that we access online is curated and organized and ordered, not by people themselves, but by these fairly vague algorithmic recommendation systems,” she mentioned. “By introducing an algorithmic curation system to the internet — you take some of the power that people have about curating their cultural consumption.”

“The meme itself probably emerges from a need to parody these random encounters that we have online,” she added. “In those moments, you get to see meme culture for what it is: quite silly and even surreal.”

Despite its newfound fame, Donghua Jinlong mentioned it had not seen any massive improve in gross sales of its merchandise.

But there are follow-up plans within the works. “As a thank-you to our followers, we have been thinking maybe we should upload more videos to show what glycine is and about its industrial use and benefits to the human body. We don’t have other commercialization plans yet.”

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