A cartoon bird that begs for mercy has proven to be a brilliant PR move for an app that became the surprising and unfair victim of frustrated, homebound students in China.
Faced with a sudden increase in one-star ratings, the collaboration app DingDing, which offers videoconferencing, messaging and document-sharing among its features, deployed a meme-laden video in which its mascot sheds copious tears and begs for five-star ratings while singing a jaunty tune.
The sudden wave of one-star ratings was not due to any fault in the app's functionality. It seems that students under COVID-19 lockdown were being forced to use it for their schoolwork, and used the rating system to express their displeasure. It's also possible they believed they could reduce the Alibaba-owned app's rating enough to see it removed from app stores.
The video, posted Sunday night, may be turning the ratings tide thanks to its many knowing references to internet culture. As of press time, the Weibo topic "Dingding" had 140 million views and more than 88,000 comments. The latest Apple Store reviews are still mixed, but the average rating is holding steady around 2.6.
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Several brand officials from Alibaba chimed in by leaving comments on the video and heaping their own five-star praise on the app. Representatives of Ant Credit Pay, Taobao, Fliggy, Damai and Xiami music have left messages—not failing to also mention their own brands. Other companies, including underwear brand Aimer, jumped in to attest that they too were giving the app five stars.
Despite this drama, the increased need for online collaboration due to the COVID-19 outbreak has been very good for DingDing and other similar apps. DingDing became the most downloaded app in the Apple Store on February 5 and is in that spot again this morning. Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group, said in the company's third quarter earnings call that DingDing was seeing explosive growth, with the number of organisations and daily users continuing to reach new highs.
This story was adapted from a story first published on Campaign China.