BEIJING/NEW YORK: Chinese fans are taking to crowdsourcing to raise funds to buy outdoor media in support of their favourite celebrities, with New York's Times Square being a popular location choice.

In one recent example, fans of a Chinese boy band singer booked ads in cities from Beijing to Reykjavik, including time on 11 Times Square screens, to celebrate his birthday.

Ruey Ku, Content General Manager for Publicis Media in Greater China, estimated they spent more than $15m in total.

"I think the mentality for fans is, 'I love (my favourite stars), and my goal is to make sure more people know about them'," he told Advertising Age.

"They're willing to spend money or a lot of time to help particular celebrities or groups build their influence."

While most fans can only afford small amounts, fan clubs in China can be very large, and, Ku added, it's often the case that "one or a couple of very wealthy fans will front a very big chunk of money.

"They're almost looking at their idol as an investment," he suggested. "They want to make sure he is bigger and can go even further and become even more massive and influential."

One aspect of that is spending to introduce that person to new markets, which can also have the happy effect of reinforcing their status at home. Chinese tourists in New York, for example, are surprised to see ads in Mandarin and take pictures to post on Chinese social platforms.

One fan club member explained the mentality as follows: "What I do is support our idols, like sending them gifts when they have a birthday," she said. "I just want to make them happy."

Data sourced from Advertising Age; additional content by WARC staff