Mattress IPO puts Chinese mystery to bed

HONG KONG, Dec 6 (Reuters Breakingviews) – The China Securities Regulatory Commission helped solve one of the most frustrating puzzles in marketing history: Who is the old white guy in the ads for Chinese mattress retailer DeRucci? The silver-haired man in a mandarin collar shirt, who normally puffs at a pipe with a slightly outraged expression, has been ubiquitous on billboards in Greater China and at international airports for over a decade. For years people tried to find out who he is.

The wait is over, so to speak. Deep in his prospectus for a potential car in Shenzhen, DeRucci announces that a certain Timothy James Kingman sold him the rights to his photo in 2009. The state media is angry with Chinese consumers’ tendency to associate white people with quality. However, De Rucci, who has tried to pass for French for years, attributed much of his marketing success to Kingman’s image, which it continues to use. Last year it made $ 700 million in sales.

Not all of the CSRC’s questions were answered, starting with Who the hell is Kingman? The Internet is eagerly awaiting its results. (by Pete Sweeney)

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Editing by Antony Currie and Katrina Hamlin

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