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Mark Zuckerberg is the unlikely star of a recent ad promoting WeChat, China’s top rival to the Facebook-owned chat service WhatsApp.
The spot, titled “Crazy for WeChat,” features a curly haired Zuckerberg lookalike named Mark lounging on a therapist’s sofa and whining about his social problems. “I mean, I invented the social network, and now my friends, they’re unfriending me,” he says.
A haughty, German-accented psychoanalyst tells Mark that if he simply used WeChat’s location-based friend radar function, he would have no problem finding “real friends.” Mark then bursts into tears, to which the therapist responds, “Ah, come on, Mark, don’t make me unfriend you too.”
Launched in China by Internet giant Tencent in 2011, WeChat currently has an estimated 355 million active monthly users, the vast majority of which are in China. But last year the company promised to spend as much as $200 million promoting the app in international markets, as it seeks to gain a foothold abroad.
The Zuckerberg-starring ad first appeared in a YouTube channel that promotes WeChat in South Africa, where the company is locked in a battle for market domination with WhatsApp, according to the Wall Street Journal. Zuckerburg’s Facebook acquired WhatsApp in a deal worth $19 billion in February.
Chinese Internet companies are notorious for their aggressive marketing tactics at home — and from the tone of the WeChat ad, it appears they might intend to go for the jugular abroad as well.
In a second ad posted to the South African YouTube channel, a group of Zuckerburg-backed lawyers confront the therapist in an attempt to stop him from prescribing WeChat to help his patients. “Oh, Mark, your anger is merely a cry for help,” the smarmy psychoanalyst replies. “Don’t worry,” he says. “With WeChat animated stickers, you can find a way to express your emotions.”
Watch both videos below.
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