HAIDILAO Buzz: It should have been great!

1. Introduction:

Established in 1994, Haidilao is known as a Chinese chain hot-pot restaurant brand. With over 10,000 employees and more than 10 million annual profit, Haidilao is already a tycoon in this field.

Haidilao Brand

At the beginning of 2011, Haidilao created one of the most successful buzz on weibo. However, what’s following is a PR crisis, one of the most serious one in this field.
The story started from May 22:

2. Course of the event

Phase 1: The event

haidilao buzz post

(translation: I just quarrel with my boyfriend in Haidilao and the waiter by our table
pass us a bunch of flowers and greetings card!  It is long and totally handwritten! I was so moved! How can the boss find so nice employees? Their business cannot be bad anyways.)

After the first 24 hours, this post has been commented 1,300 times and another  200 in the second 24 hours.


All the comments are positive, such as:

haidilaocommenta(Haidilao will drive the entire industry crazy)

haidilaocommentb(Haidilao, the model in this field).

Phase 2: The buzz

haidilao case study2 2 months later, somebody commented this post: “人类已经不能阻止海底捞了“(translation: Human beings cannot stop Haidilao anymore).

So far, the job of Weibo is finished in this case. What’s following is the spread from Weibo to other powerful websites such as:

  • Douban: most influential among high-level people
  • Sina news: biggest online news website
  • TTmop: most powerful forum
  • RenRen: China Facebook
  • Baidu Tieba: biggest BBS


That’s still not the highlight which comes right after the popularity of HAIDILAO reached its peak.

The result is: there are more than 13 million results if you search “人类不能阻止”(translation: Human beings cannot stop) on google and baidu.

And for Haidilao Weibo account, they have made an account everybody talking about from a normal company weibo account nobody cares.

Phase 3: Turning point

The food security problem from another hotpot company was exposed by media when the buzz is still going. And this influence Haidilao greatly:

The company involved is called “海捞”Haililao(not “海捞”Haidilao).

  1. The employee who disclosed the problem to media is a business spy.
  2. Before the problem exposed by media, some people already began to put articles about how HAIDILAO over-promote their brand on big website like:
  • Xinhua(government website)
  • QQ(most viewed website)
  • Sina(the website with most members)
Phase 4: Influence

The after-math of this crisis can be viewed in 2 aspects:

  1. If search “海底捞 食品安全”(Haidilao Food Security) online, you can get 1.7 million results on Baidu and 330 thousand on google.
  2. IPO plan is delayed.
  3. Customers lose their trust and impute other problems to Haidilao, such as:
  • Haidilao PR crisis 1Twelve people got diarrhea. Is this caused by oyster from Haidilao?
  • Haidilao PR crisis 2More problems from Haidilao exposed by journalist: they serve the chopsticks dropped on the floor!

3. Conclusion

From this case, the effect of comment is clearly shown in front of us:

  1. The buzz of “人类已经不能阻止海底捞了” get success and attract many people’s attention.
  2. The PR crisis influenced greatly the operation of the company, even their IPO plan.

What can be drawn from the lesson?

  1. Put more interactive content.
  2. Spread the buzz wide.
  3. Control the reputation during promotion.
  4. Prepare for PR crisis in advance or at least react fast and properly.