Picked this one up from Mark Englehart Evans blog, it’s a randomly cool billboard done by an environmental artist Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung; the subject? Siddhartha Obama, or to those of you not familiar with Eastern religion, it’s Obama depicted as Buddhism’s founder, and as the cure to the world’s environmental woes.
ii. Above the Line
This one’s pretty funny; it’s from Mentos, and takes a mischievous look on the average melodramatic “everyone dies in the end” Chinese love story. With my little experience marketing candy in China, it seems when aimed at a younger audience, it always comes with a twist, some societal expectation or old formula that’s suddenly broken.
This is pretty interesting; picked up from LRB forums as well as dug up from pages across Youku, we see some “shanzai” or copycat advertising of Dior and Johnnie Walker by local Chinese brands.. both coincidentally featuring a continuous shot camera technique focused on the actor.
I’ve been seeing this trend recently, first introduced in Olympics advertising, then obvious in Vancl’s latest campaign, and now in Li Ning.. protagonists that focus not on conformity, but on discovery; a beautifully refreshing attitude of going against the grain of societal expectations, to instead slowly reveal the world like a precious gift opened with fear of ripped wrapping.
Based on my general experience of China advertising and social media, I’ve really come to admire Vancl’s advertising strategy.
The focus isn’t broad stroked Chinese cliche; or a usage of celebrities commonly seen promoting a myriad of products (like when you see famous Taiwan singer Jay Chou promote a fast food chain, a clothing line, a soft drink all in the same commercial break).
Picked these up from LRB Forums; it’s a collection of “sleeping action” shots of typical Chinese acrobatic/kungfu activities done in a sleeping position. Smartly done; each model lies on the floor, wherein the set is set, and a simple 90 degree turn of the camera gives an effect of action while the model sleeps.
Got this one from the guys over at DMG; it’s a Volkswagen ad, executed beautifully; the story removes the pretentiousness of glamour, replacing it with a mischievous twist. This humanizes the brand, rather than the stale “buy this car, become famous” we have “you don’t need glamour, glamour comes standard.”
Picked this one up via LRB forums and Shanghaiist. It’s a recent campaign by Dior that visually treads the lines into racism against the Chinese. Interesting brand positioning “yes”; ability to catch attention and stir conversations “yes”; creates loyalty and brand affinity “no”; and therein lies the rub; one little “no” can ruin any good campaign.
Picked this one up via LRB Forums; In an interesting twist, a commercial banned by China Central Television (CCTV) once posted online received 2M views in only 8 days.
There’s a bit of celebrity power behind this one though; the ad features Yan Liu, a famous, beautiful TV anchor for Hunan TV getting her faced sucked by a sweaty fat man… and within that sentence you can intuitively grasp why it was banned without having to watch the ad yourself.
This recent campaign by Wildaid is pretty interesting; I’d venture to say most wildlife protection advertising is great; as their primary focus is to shock the crap out of you to get you to change your point of view. In this particular campaign seen in China’s subways; Wildaid shoots endangered animal posters with money, through the billboards glass. The end result is a billboard with a bullet hole; the center of which features a coin.
The intended communication? Each time you buy even a coin’s worth of endangered species produced product, you’re pretty much shooting the animal; sometimes on the torso, but in the case of elephants, in the face. Though difficult to see the actual copy (at first you’d almost think it was a Discovery Channel ad with animals leaping out of the billboards toward you) once the message is absorbed it has impact; and execution-wise it’ll catch your eye.
However, one must wonder of the effect on highly-trafficked China subways; will enough people, rushing from point A to point B stop to get the sense of the communication? Or will they simply tune into the Discovery Channel thinking to catch the new “3D animal show”?
Or rather, selling Shanghai to the Shanghainese. I picked this one up from LRB forums; JiaDing district in Shanghai is known as rural, “end of the line” district… generally speaking its the kind of place you don’t want to live or really even want to visit. With Shanghai’s breakneck development pace, even the fringes are getting a facelift; the issue isn’t lack of development… now the problem is making the Chinese care.
To shed the previous rural undeveloped image; JiaDing district put this quasi-romantic commercial together. In it, you’ve got your typical Asian introverted romance; slow sensuous music; girl ineffectually hitting boyfriend with backpack, etc; you know the drill. It brings a bit of modernity to JiaDing, a sensibility that’s surprising for a place most people thought was… well, empty really.
If we know one thing about JiaDing we know that we can dream of better times with our backpack wielding girlfriends. We also know that there’s a train that will take us there. And… well I guess that’s about it. But maybe that’s enough.