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Internet frenzy a mixed bag for hurdler's bride

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2014-09-12 07:25

Internet frenzy a mixed bag for hurdler's bride

Chinese Olympic hurdler champion Liu Xiang (R) and his wife Ge Tian. Photo provided to China Daily

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Ji Fenhua, Liu's mother, says that Ge is currently working as a professional actress at a TV series production center affiliated to the People's Liberation Army. She reveals that Ge has dated her son since 2012, when Liu's London Olympic bid failed after he suffered a serious heel injury.

But amid the sudden onslaught of information on Ge, some online bloggers speculate that the couple may be making use of the exposure for commercial purposes.

Zheng Ye, director of the new media department of Bona Film Group, says that stars nowadays are becoming "smarter", and release news of their private lives in advance, normally through the Internet, to reduce the gossip churned up by the paparazzi.

"There is a marketing team standing behind a star. It usually holds the news until the last minute and then releases it online, usually through the star's personal micro blog, which can easily establish a close-to-fans image and will definitely benefit the star's career," says the veteran with 10 years' experience in celebrity marketing.

But other insiders say they doubt such self-promotion was behind the online frenzy. in Ge's case.

Wu Juan, founder of Let Media, a Shanghai-based PR agency specializing in Internet marketing, says that Ge, an unfamiliar face to the public but now attached to rumors of cosmetic surgeries and two ex-boyfriends, may not appear "good enough" for Liu in the eyes of his fans.

"The controversy of Ge's identity has pushed netizens to launch a 'cyber hunt' for the men in her life, which may explain why a lot of her private life has quickly leaked out on Internet," Wu says.

"But in line with the current evidence, we prefer to believe it's not a pre-designed marketing campaign as very few celebrities will choose negative options that may embarrass them."

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