A New Advertising Low?

There are so many ads for cosmetic surgery in Shanghai taxis these days. Ken reports this grim discovery:

> Now, it can be annoying when you’re sitting in a taxi and you cannot turn off the TV screen 18 inches from your face, but I can live with it. However, what I saw in the taxi today today was perhaps a new low. There was a print ad, mounted on the back of the head rest in front of me, advertising a plastic surgery clinic that obviously churns out operations. Part of the ad was a reflective plastic thing (it looked like tin foil) in the shape of a mirror that invited you to look into it and consider if you didn’t need to do something about your looks. (I answered in the affirmative.)

> So there you are stuck in traffic, on a Monday morning for an hour and all you see is your own, crumpled, ugly mug looking back at you with, a doctor holding a scalpel smiling at you. (I wept profusely.) I almost told the taxi driver to head over to the clinic and get it done before lunch.



John Pasden

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


  1. I think I’d be more concerned about being stuck in traffic for an hour! Transportation planning in China is atrocious!

  2. @Dezza: You can take the urban planner out of Canada, but… 😉

    The debate for and against cosmetic surgery is an interesting one. Personally I’m against it, as it is sort of like giving up. We, as in greater society, have been on this backbench crusade for a couple decades to make the world feel good about themselves, no matter how they look… and cosmetic surgery is sorta like saying “well, we give up. screw it – you all have to be perfect.”

  3. Jeff 傑夫 Says: November 8, 2006 at 9:14 am

    ONE DAY I left Taiwan. I’ll never forget it. I lived there for 4 years — BUT I knew I’d have to leave. The day came and so I pulled up my scooter to the Buhhdist temple, handed over my keys to the monk. I agreed to do that the night before, but anyways… Hopped in a taxi back to my place… and then soon to the airport. BUT this taxi driver was smoking a cigar and playing hardcore porn at 2 in the afternoon! Snakes and ladies! A bit twisted. I knew that I would have to come back to Asia because that’s just TOO WEIRD.

  4. Yeah, exactly. (Not only that, but it’s dangerous too.)

  5. LOL. I think the Chinese can handle this type of in-your-face bombarding, it happens on the daily in Chinese families. Your parents (mostly your mom) will talk blatant smack directly to your face, bringing you to all new lows on the daily. And to the point where these new dailies go in one ear and out the other. I think it’ll be okay.

  6. I bothers me that you can’t turn off the sound in the ones in Beijing. You can turn them down, but not completely off. The drivers have to be going completely crazy.

  7. It’s worse in Taiwan. There, some taxis have tv… for the driver. And they don’t turn it off when driving.

  8. trevelyan,

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen taxis in Shanghai that have TVs that stay silent until the driver starts the fare. The sound shuts off again when the fare ends.

  9. Da Xiangchang Says: November 9, 2006 at 5:04 am

    This Ken guy seriously needs a self-esteem boost. If I’m riding a cab and there’s a mirror to see my face, I’d be quite content to stare at myself for hours. To each his own, I guess.

  10. I still get in taxis sometimes and see Ken from Chinesepod’s mug staring back at me.

  11. Da Xiangchang, yeah, if I was riding in the back of the cab, and there was a mirror, I’d stare at my narcistic self for the whole ride, pucker my lips and imagine making love to them. Even if it was a wrinkled piece of tin foil, I just can’t help it.

  12. Da Xiangchang,

    I tried your suggestion, and hey, it works. My self-esteem has received a huge boost from looking at myself iun a new way!


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