A plug from a Chinese celebrity has left a Tasmanian farm overwhelmed with 45,000 orders for its lavender-filled teddy bear.
Bobbie the bear has become a hot accessory after Chinese model and actress Zhang Xinyu endorsed his qualities on Facebook in August.
Bridestow Lavender Estate, in northern Tasmania, was flooded with orders, unaware of what was causing the influx.
“Our phone system has gone into meltdown. We can’t put Bobbie on the internet anymore because the demand just overwhelms our ability to supply on a daily basis,” Bridestow managing director Robert Ravens told reporters at the state government-sponsored inaugural Asia-Tasmania forum in Hobart.
“It’s caused our staff to be stressed, it’s caused me to be stressed and it means we can’t even take a holiday – they chase me all around the planet.”
Staff at the farm tell of busloads of Chinese each leaving with a bear, and tears when they find they can’t buy for friends and family.
The sold-out sign has been put up on the internet as the business scrambles to keep up.
“He’s now the must-have object in southeast Asia,” Mr Ravens said.
“Every lady under 30 wants one.
“A starlet, a very noted media personality in Shanghai, said that she preferred to sleep with one of these and when she said that the whole world lit up.”
Bridestow has put on four extra staff to help hand-stuff the bears, believed to be the only ones in the world containing fine lavender.
Ms Zhang has trumpeted the calming qualities of the fragrance, believing Bobbie brings health benefits.
He is also “microwavable”, turning into a virtual hot-water bottle.
But Bobbie’s success has also highlighted Tasmania’s difficulties with freight costs.
Mr Ravens said he planned to tell the forum that the state’s potential could never be met without a direct international shipping service and more efficient customs and postal services.
Tasmania’s Premier, Lara Giddings, said the previous Labor federal government had promised $40 million in assistance and a freight logistics committee was due to report back to the state government soon.