Vancl’s “No Fear” Ad Campaign

29 May 2012

Vancl (凡客) is a popular Chinese clothing brand that hires the likes of celebrity author/race car driver Han Han (韩寒) for its ads.

This ad featuring Li Yuchun (李宇春) is all over Shanghai right now:

Vancl Ads

On first glance, the Chinese in this ad is pretty simple, but doesn’t seem to make sense. 我爱你 means “I love you,” and 无所谓 means “don’t care.” Huh?

But look closer… It’s not 无所谓 in the ad, but 无所畏. The final character is different. So the meaning goes from “to not care” to “to have no fear.” The ad intentionally plays with you to draw you in; 无所畏 (“to have no fear”) is not a phrase you normally use in spoken language (although 无所畏 and 无畏 are not so hard to find online).

This ad featuring Han Han part of the same series:

Vancl Ads

Here you have the same 谓/畏 wordplay, this time introducing the phrase 正能量, a phrase popular among the kids which can’t be translated literally, and is used to mean something like “positive attitude.”

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Thank you. I saw those ads and was wondering what I was looking at.

  2. Interesting post, John! Thanks.

  3. This ad is like the opposite of this…

    ‏RT @Chinese_Pro: 畏罪 [wèi zuì] to dread punishment/afraid of being arrested for a crime

    • Jhon is right. I am a Chinese girl. The words“畏罪”you said is to words “畏”and “罪”that“畏”means fear and “罪”means “crime”. So “无所畏”can divided into 3 parts:无means no, 所means all,畏 means fear. Put them together is no fear at all.I do not fear anything.

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