A Vietnamese man has become well known among social media users in the country for his videos, in which he reviews trending items that he used his own money to purchase online and tests if they are really as helpful as advertised.
That man is 30-year-old Le Thanh Kien, who runs the one-man TikTok account named Kien Review with the slogan “Expose truths behind advertisements.”
Since its first video released in August 2020, Kien Review has attracted 6.1 million followers, who want to know the utility of online products without having to pay for them.
A self-proclaimed quiet and unobtrusive person, Kien told Tuoi Tre Cuoi Tuan (Tuoi Tre Weekly) magazine that he started creating TikTok videos as the coronavirus pandemic had affected his job as a mechanic at local factories and made him spend more time growing ornamental plants at home.
“That time, my house had leaking walls, so I searched on Facebook for a solution,” Kien recalled the occasion when he had reviewed a spray product advertised to be capable of bonding bricks as cement does and preventing leaks.
“I ordered one which turned out to be no different than ordinary spray bottle paints.
“I uploaded [the review video] on TikTok without expecting that it would capture so much attention.”
The mechanic-turned-TikToker then went on to review other items, including wall mirror sheets and washing machine cleaners, whose effectiveness turned out just as bad.
The majority of the items Kien reviewed were unique ones that had been overly praised to be handy with some features contradicting science.
This does not mean that there were no good products among Kien’s reviews.
“Besides the shoddy ones, many were of high quality, not all of them were deceitful,” Kien commented.
He also shared his TikTok videos on his Facebook account, where his reviews collected nearly a million views on average.
“It made me happy so I continued making videos,” Kien said.
Like many TikTok beginners, he struggled with many things, from lighting, set-up to video editing, by himself at the outset.
“It took me a lot of time to learn,” the man said.
There were times when Kien damaged the products before finishing his video. In those instances, he purchased the second and even third product.
What is worth mentioning is that all of the payments for the products came from Kien’s budget, whereas TikTok has yet to allow content creators to make money from views.
“At first I bought cheap things, costing VND50,000-200,000 [US$2-9],” he said.
Since he opened a YouTube channel, which has quickly expanded and earned him decent income with the assistance of a brother, he has been no longer worried about the budget for each review.
|This supplied photo shows Le Thanh Kien filming a review video.
On the other hand, he has also received many attractive offers with generous remuneration to make positive reviews of certain products.
However, he declined all of those offers as he did not want to contradict himself and be dishonest to his viewers.
“If viewers know [I was paid to make dishonest reviews], they will turn their back on me immediately,” Kien said.
Kien has never faced any threat from his negative reviews.
“I’m not afraid of threats of physical attacks, but I'm worried about getting my accounts hacked or stolen,” he said with a smile.
Encouragement and pressure
Kien attributed his videos’ attractiveness to special and humorous details.
Before creating each video, he brainstormed how to make it easy to understand and be accepted by as many people as possible.
“Many of the viewers commented that thanks to me, they did not spend money on the deceitful goods,” Kien said.
“Many others shared that they had no need to buy those goods, but still waited to watch my videos for fun.
“I’m very happy when reading such comments.”
Despite that, Kien is highly critical of his works, saying that he found himself boring sometimes when he watched his video again and that he had to make new scripts and do it all over.
“There will be a day when my videos become unnoticed, people will not remember them,” Kien said.
Currently, Kien is filming one clip a day on average.
“I feel a lot of pressure on coming up with new content as it is easy to run out of ideas and the items may no longer be attractive enough,” he confessed.
As there have also been many other accounts making review videos like Kien’s, the TikToker said he has made efforts to renovate his content and expression.
Kien plans to add some other categories, including daily tips and hacks or trends that are intriguing many people, in the near future.
“The videos will focus on humor to not only make sense but also create emotions for the viewers,” the man said.
“In general, I will try my best to make the most helpful reviews possible, regardless of how long viewers follow me.”