Review: Chuang 2021 vs. Youth With You 3 – A Comparison From Marketing and Production Perspectives

This article analyzes Chuang 2021 (Chuang) vs. Youth With You 3 (YWY) from a personal perspective as a general viewer and as a creative industry insider with marketing and production knowledge. Please be known that the points listed in this article are only eligible on international platforms, for international fans.

LATEST UPDATED ON MAY 23, 2021

Firstly, let’s review the general information of both shows.


ComparisonChuang 2021Youth With You 3
Mentors & PD– PD: Deng Chao 
– Mentors: Zhou Shen, Ning Jing, Amber Liu
– Tutors: Nene, Zhou Zhennan
– PD: Chris Lee 
– Mentors: Li Ronghao, Wilber Pan, Lisa 
– Tutors: Yu Shuxin 
ProductionTencent (WeTV)iQiYi 
Trainees’
nationalities
Chinese, Japanese, Korean, American, Russian, ThaiChinese, Chinese American, Chinese Canadian, Japanese, Taiwanese
No of trainees90119
Debut slots119

Trainees

The gap between both shows was insignificant in terms of trainees’ quality. Chuang had outstanding dancers like Santa and Riki as well as great vocalists like Mika and Jing Long. Meanwhile, YWY’s dance line – Liu Jun, Kachine, Luo Zizhou – and vocal line – Xu Ziwei, Wei Hongyu – were just as powerful. In terms of visuals, Chuang had prominent names like Daniel Zhou, Wu Yuheng, Lelush, or Gan Wangxing while YWY had Tony Yu, Kingston, and Chang Huasen.

Chuang was more diverse in terms of nationalities as well as background stories. Or it could be said that there were more popular foreign trainees in Chuang than in YWY. 

Chuang 2021: 9/10
Youth With You 3: 8/10


PD & Mentors

As an actor and director who had little relation with the idol profession, Chuang’s PD Deng Chao was mainly responsible for the MC part and the show’s meme collection. Meanwhile, YWY’s PD Chris Lee who used to be a winner in a singing contest demonstrated her role as an influential leader by giving the trainees in-depth and professional feedback.

PD Chris Lee and PD Deng Chao

In Chuang’s mentor line, Zhou Shen, Amber Liu, and Vin Zhou did contribute professional, helpful, in-depth comments, while Ning Jing and Nene mostly praised the trainees’ looks and performances’ emotions.

Rumor had it that Tencent spent a huge amount of money to invite Koki to guest on one episode of the show. If this was supposed to be a strategy to promote Chuang in Japanese market, it was not necessarily an effective one. With her lack of impact and experience in the idol market, Koki didn’t really bring to the show any significant value.

Chuang 2021’s mentors: Amber Liu, Ning Jing, Zhou Shen, tutors: Nene, Vin Zhou and special mentor Koki.

However, inviting Gong Jun to be a guest mentor was Tencent’s smart choice in terms of marketing. Gong couldn’t contribute anything in terms of experiences and expertise as the actor neither had idol experience nor debuted in a boy group (he was even famous for his bad singing skills!!!). But his guest appearance did gather a good amount of attention to the show. Chuang took advantage of the recent success of the web drama “Word Of Honor” and satisfy fans’ fantasy by making the crossover of two hottest events happening in C-biz recently – survival shows and dramas adapted from BL novels – a reality.

Gong Jun mentioned Zhang Zhehan – his co-star in the BL novel adapted web drama “Word Of Honor”

While Chuang kept inviting hot yet not-so-related guests, YWY3’s mentor line was more specialized. Li Ronghao mostly commented on vocals, Will Pan talked about rap and Lisa mainly discussed trainees’ dance skills. They tended to make more general statements regarding topics out of their expertise. 

Lisa did bring a lot of international attention to YWY3, and that’s undoubtedly the main reason iQiYi wanted her back to the show despite she couldn’t show up due to COVID-19 and schedule reasons. But let’s be honest here, it would be much better in terms of show dynamic and engagement if she could join the show in person, not via online classes.

Youth With You 3’s mentors: Will Pan, Lisa and Li Ronghao

To reinforce the mentor lineup for the show, YWY3 invited Silence Wang and G.E.M to be the X mentors. Wang did a great job as he gave the trainees wise advice, and taught them how to interpret the song and express their attitudes in the performances. With a strong vocal background and industry experience, G.E.M was expected to bring more value to the show and the trainees than just performing. She had a collaboration stage with the trainees, but it turned out to be her own stage, and the trainees were just her backup dancers.

G.E.M and the trainees’ performance

Chuang 2021: 8/10
Youth With You 3: 8.5/10


Outfit

Chuang completely lost to YWY when talking about outfits. While YWY’s outfits were more beautiful, detailed, and suitable for each performance, one word “terrible” couldn’t fully describe Chuang’s outfits, especially Chinese costume ones. Chuang’s production team showed that they neither invested in the show’s outfit design nor put effort into understanding the context of the performances.

Chuang’s Chinese costume outfits

YWY’s Chinese costume outfits were on another level.

YWY’s Chinese costume outfits

In addition, although the name tags Chuang’s trainees had to wear everywhere did help viewers recognize and remember the trainees, those big-name tags made their outfits look messy and thus, destroyed the moods of the performances.

Chuang’s trainees: Hello, we’re trying to be sexy here!

Chuang 2021: 6.5/10
Youth With You 3: 8/10


Marketing buzz 

Chuang undoubtedly had a good marketing strategy in the first place. They understood what viewers liked to see so that many people might curse them but still watched the show anyway. Chuang knew how to choose and made the most of marketing angles, but mostly thanks to the trainees’ diversity and their sense of humor. The discussions ranged from Yang Chaoyue’s male version Gan Wangxing at the beginning of the show to Lelush’s unwillingness to debut yet being forced to stay in the show by viewers.

Towards the end of the show, Lelush’s one-of-a-kind case was thoroughly used as an effective marketing angle. The incident was pushed to the climax when Lelush got to the top 10 and went straight to the final night. He frankly restated his wish not to debut and asked fans to respect his decision.

Gan Wangxing and Lelush

CP (couple) was a huge part of Chuang. Many CPs were formed and loved by netizens, such as Santa x Liu Yu, Santa x Riki, Zhou Keyu x Patrick, Zhou Keyu x Riki, etc. The show cleverly promoted brotherhood and friendship through the dormitory scenes, showing their journey of becoming close friends from strangers as well as emphasizing their personalities.

The lovely CPs of Chuang 2021

Chuang invited beautiful female stars Ju Jingyi, Mao Xiaotong, Liu Xiening for collaboration stages. Although the performances weren’t that attractive, Chuang knew how to highlight the killing parts. Mika’s and Ju Jingyi’s “kabedon” moment, for instance, was everywhere on the internet. 

Mika’s and Ju Jingyi’s “kabedon” moment

YWY3 had a good start with a good production team but the marketing strategy couldn’t keep up. They kept repeating the old methodology over the years: creating seemingly sensational and controversial stories by evil editing. When the viewers got bored with those tactics while the trainees did not create any significant differences, YWY3 struggled to compete with Chuang who did beyond expectations.

YWY’s marketing buzz mostly revolved around the trainees’ scandals which may benefit the show, but not the trainees themselves. There were too many controversies about the trainees’ personalities such as Wei Hongyu’s promiscuous private life accusation, Liang Sen’s bullying rumor, Chen Junyu’s cheating allegation, just to name a few. Was this the result of a poor profile screening process, or the intention of the program team to use dramas to boost traffic and discussion for the show? Either way, it was not fair to the viewers and especially the fans.

Wei Hongyu’s promiscuous private life accusation and Chen Junyu’s cheating allegation.

Besides that, there was another heated controversy between Yu Shuxin and YWY’s production team when the idol furiously claimed that she was deliberately evil edited in the show. Even though Yu Shuxin’s role was Youth Tutor who was supposed to show up on every episode, she ceased to appear on the show after episode 9. She joined YWY at first to attract attention for the show, but when things went too far, it affected the relationship of both sides. Perhaps the blame should be placed on the greedy production team and marketing team who didn’t handle it well. Or, (conspiracy theory alerted!) everything including the controversy was a part of their play!

The controversy involved Yu Shuxin’s and YWY3’s production team

Just right before the finale, Tony Yu – the potential Center of the final group – was involved in multiples serious controversies: he allegedly held dual nationality which wasn’t recognized in China; and his parents were accused of running a large-scale, exclusive karaoke business that was famous online for prostitution services. Tony Yu subsequently withdrew from the show due to “personal health reasons”.

The controversy revolved the show reached its peak when a video surfaced in which fans were dumping a large amount of milk only to gain extra votes for their picks from scanning the QR codes in the milk caps. The milk waste scandal escalated quickly as authorities got involved. YWY had to issue an apology, temporarily halted filming, and finally canceled the final.

Fans bought and dumped milk in large quantities to scan the QR codes.

Chuang 2021: 9/10
Youth With You 3: 5/10


Communication

One of the significant events in Chuang was popular trainee Kazuma leaving the show. His name was apparently placed at position 90 in the ranking. Only when viewers clicked to vote for Kazuma, the system would announce that this trainee has left the competition. Chuang not only failed in user experience optimization but also showed its lack of sensitivity and sophistication when giving such a popular trainee like Kazuma the last spot without clear explanation. It would be better to just grey him out and clearly state that he had withdrawn from the show.

Chuang’s ranking list before the first elimination

After closing votes, YWY did a better job in distinguishing between trainees who had deliberately left the show and those who were eliminated due to low rankings.

YWW and Chuang declared the trainees’ statuses after the first elimination

However, some parts of YWY’s communication were still out of alignment. For example, the song 玉 was named after its pinyin “Yu” on YouTube while being referred to as “Jade” on Twitter. It was not semantically wrong, but in terms of communication, this information should be identical and aligned between multiple departments to avoid confusion for viewers.

玉 was labeled as “Yu” on YouTube and as “Jade” on Twitter

The “Focus Cam” videos were in the vertical format while YouTube’s thumbnail was 16:9 horizontal format. If you were a YouTuber or any kind of content creator, you would understand how important the thumbnail was to the performance of the content. 

However, Chuang’s video thumbnails showed that they didn’t at all put effort into making them look good. While Chuang only added blurred backgrounds to fit the YouTube thumbnail size,  YWY had a fixed and proper template used for all the “Focus Cam” videos.

Youtube’s thumbnails of Chuang 2021 (first 2 rows) and Youth With You 3 (last 2 rows)

The difference was even more obvious when Chuang and YWY cross-broadcasted this year. Chuang’s contents were re-posted on YWY channels and vice versa. It was easy to spot which show had better design and communication teams with just a glance.

The thumbnails of “Lit” performance on Youtube’s channels of iQiyi (YWY’s production), Tencent Video and Chuang 2021.

Chuang 2021: 6.5/10
Youth With You 3: 7/10


Production

Production: scripting writing, filming, video editing, stage design, sound, and lighting

Chuang’s script editors were good at handling storylines in each episode. The length, the highlights, and the emotions were on point that viewers didn’t feel bored through a long episode. The sideshows and other sub-content such as “Are you the werewolf?” or trainees’ daily vlogs were a huge bonus point. Through those sub-content, viewers were able to explore more about their picks’ personalities and how the trainees interacted with one another which was also a tremendous “sugar” resource for CP fans.

However, Chuang’s filming was extremely poor. While the cameras should have flexible moves to capture the trainees’ spectacular moments, the trainees on the other hand have to follow the cameras all the time and eventually mess up the lineup. Dead angle and unfocused frames were everywhere.

We’re still unable to see the trainees’ faces clearly despite the 1080p resolution.

Chuang’s video editing was even worse. It seemed like they cut the performances out of the full show and upload them to YouTube directly without removing background noise. It was annoying for people who want to watch the performances without watching the entire episode since they feel the disconnection with the background stories. 

Chuang’s performance videos have a lot of unnecessary background noises.
YWY’s performance videos are more carefully edited.

Chuang’s sloppy editing bug became a joke on social media when they tried to censor Rikimaru’s pants making it look like he was not wearing pants at all. Since Puma is the sponsor for the show’s training outfit, it’s expected for other sportswear brands to be censored, but the editing was simply insensitive and unprofessional.

Left photo: Riki’s pants after being censored.
Right photo: How his MLB New York pair of pants actually looks like.

The filter was either overused or underused in Chuang’s editing process which highlighted many weaknesses in the trainees’ appearances. It was necessary to keep the trainees’ good images because they were idols after all.

The filter was initially overused that it even changed outfits’ colors.

Kazuma’s outfit with and without Chuang’s filter.

And when there was no filter at all….

Han Peiquan, Patrick, Caelan and Daniel Zhou

YWY3 did well in stage setup and editing, but the episodes were lengthy with too many statements and announcements. Most viewers were too impatient to watch the whole show without skipping to focus on their picks’ screentime.  YWY3 also had sideshows and sub-content, but the content seemed to be not as attractive as Chuang’s.

There was a joke on the Internet that YWY3 spent all their money on production and stages, so they didn’t have enough budget for marketing and music licenses. The show seemed to use a lot of PD’s and mentors’ songs for trainees’ performances. For instance, there were Will Pan’s “Who Is The Real MVP”, Li Ronghao’s “The Weight Of Life”, Chris Lee’s “New Creature” and “Ximen Youth”, etc. This could be a tactic to save production costs by making use of available resources. The music licensing fees might be reduced if the production team offered package deals to the PD and mentors. But at the same time, the trainees might have limited choices due to cost-saving issues.

The expression stage “Ximen Youth” – Chris Lee’s song.

Chuang 2021: 7/10
Youth With You 3: 8/10


Conclusion

Average Scores
Chuang 2021: 7.67/10 
Youth With You 3: 7.41/10

The scores in this article only represented a personal opinion, didn’t necessarily evaluate the successes of the shows. Although there were undoubtedly apparent differences from style to execution, both Chuang and YWY3 had their own good points. 

Chuang gave the trainees a chance to freely arrange, mix, and choreograph the theme song to express their teams’ personalities. As a result, there were many surprises and every team had a unique performance. Performances from Han Peiquan’s team and multinational team “Friends” are my personal favorites. This was a great way to discover the potential of each trainee as well as give them an opportunity to show their talents and personalities.

YWY’s trainees were able to brainstorm ideas for their performances and present their plans to the PD and production team. Thus, the trainees showed their artistic abilities and learn the production process from the ideas to the actual results. There were many brilliant ideas from the trainees as well as practical and valuable suggestions on feasibility, budget, etc… from the production team. This was such a good opportunity for the trainees to learn more about aspects other than their idol profession. 

Survival shows 2021 in a nutshell:

Chuang 2021: Entertainment/Comedy show
Youth With You 3: Dancer and producer training program


Sip Of Tea

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