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Chinese Product Placement in The Big Bang Theory

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by Yiping Yang/Latitude News

American companies place products in films and television shows all the time. Now Chinese brands are also getting into the act, placing their products in American movies and television programs that Chinese viewers watch.

The Big Bang Theory is an example. The show consistently attracts high ratings among American viewers. It is also one of the most popular American TV shows in China.

Starting in March, Chinese dairy giant Inner Mongolia Yili began placing the company’s Shuhua milk in the show. (Above, a Shuhua milk carton appears in a scene set in Sheldon and Leonard's apartment.) Yili and The Big Bang Theory have a contract that lasts through August.

Of course, companies can’t waltz onto set and simply pay for product placement. Sina, a Chinese news site, notes that American production companies only accept products that fit into the shows’ story lines. Shuhua milk appeared on The Big Bang Theory because the product is lactose-free, so lactose-intolerant Leonard can drink it.

Chinese companies usually advertise their products during concerts or Chinese television series featuring pop singers. But six years ago, the Shanghai Metersbonwe Fashion and Accessories Company was the first Chinese company to make the leap by inserting ads and products into the Transformers series.

The fashion company’s logo appeared on a billboard and a van during Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen in 2009. Two years later, in Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, actor Shia LaBeouf wore a Metersbonwe T-shirt in the film.

“Unlike our other marketing strategies, that brand placement in a Hollywood movie had a greater impact on young people nationwide,” Wei Xie, Metersbonwe’s brand manager, told China Daily. Placing brands into American films and movies involves “small investment, big turnover,” he says.

Big turnover is right. Five days after releasing Transformers 3, Metersbonwe sold more than one million T-shirts.

But not every Chinese brand is as lucky as Metersbonwe in extending their markets to the U.S. Sometimes Chinese companies decline to put their products onscreen if they feel American directors won’t cast them in the best light, according to Southern Weekly, a newspaper based in Guangzhou.

Every now and again, we'll republish a story from our friends at Latitude News. They do good work — check them out! They're on Twitter and Facebook, too.

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Animals
Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
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Animals
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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