Image: A Chinese promo poster for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

China Audience Ambassador is a new official diplomatic position created by Hollywood films with the mission of persuading Chinese audiences to watch US films in China.

Putting the nation ahead of schedule to become the world’s largest film market in the near future (expected to surpass North America in 2017), China’s box office grew astonishingly by nearly 50 percent in 2015. The expansion marked the highest rate of growth since 2011. The Chinese market is currently worth almost $7 billion.

For the recently released blockbuster film Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, producers chose Chinese pop star Li Yifeng as their official China Audience Ambassador. 28-year-old Li rose to fame after appearing on the American Idol-like talent show, My Hero. Aside from being a huge Mandarin pop star, Li is also an actor, with recent appearances in Chinese franchises such as Tiny Times.

The role of the China Audience Ambassador is to be the (handsome) face of the film in China. For the premier of Batman vs. Superman in Beijing, ambassador Li Yifeng joined the actors and director on stage and spoke to the press and fans about the film. Note that Li does not have a role in the movie. As an attempt to attract East Asian audiences, including popular Asian stars into small roles in films has been common in recent years for Hollywood. Examples include:

-Fan Bingbing in Iron Man 3 and X-Men: Days of Future Past
-Kim Soo-hyun in Avengers 2
-Li Bingbing in Transformers and upcoming Realm

However, if a China Audience Ambassador doesn’t appear in the film, they’ll instead appear with the film’s stars at events and in promotions. China Audience Ambassadors are also expected to represent their respective films on social media.

What are your thoughts on Hollywood’s marketing technique? Have you noticed an increase of Asian stars in films?