The New Peking Duck: The Rubber Duck Rakes In Hundreds Of Millions Of Yuan For Beijing

 @SophieXSong on November 04 2013 11:09 AM
Beijing's Duck
An inflated Rubber Duck by Dutch conceptual artist Florentijn Hofman floats on the Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace in Beijing September 26, 2013. The 18-metre-high (59 ft.) inflatable sculpture will be displayed at the historic tourist attraction for a month, local media reported. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s inflatable plastic duck has proven such a crowd pleaser that it’s brought in more than hundreds of millions of yuan for Beijing.

The big yellow duck -- which made its debut in May and then was quickly copied in Taiwan, Beijing, not to mention souvenir stands across Asia -- has brought in an estimated 200 million yuan ($33 million) at two Beijing venues, the Summer Palace and the Garden Expo, in just 52 days. The duck has also brought in 7 million yuan in sales of plastic spin-off toys for private bathtubs, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

“We were happy with the results,” said Sun Qun, who organized the shows. So was the government, which partnered with him on the duck extravaganza.

There were some criticism for the Beijing organizers, as the duck had been free for all to see in Hong Kong, but it would seem their commercial acumen had been impeccable. More than 3 million people have flocked to see the duck, prompting a 30 percent increase in the number of visitors to the Summer Palace from the same period a year ago. The high price tag of the entrance fee to the Garden Expo, 100 yuan, didn’t stop people’s love for the bird -- more than 70,000 people showed up on the duck’s last day in Beijing to say goodbye.

The duck in Taiwan wasn’t as lucky. An earthquake on Thursday knocked the wind out of the duck stationed in Taoyuan, and the tail-end exploded when workers tried to reinflate the bird. A local councilor called for a moment of silence at the toy’s demise, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The financial details of the deal with Hofman were not disclosed, but the duck may just represent a new way to drive up retail spending in order to boost China’s slowing economic growth. Can a giant rubber duck save the world’s second-largest economy, or even, the world?

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