Tag: marketing & advertising


Dec 2004

Prime Throat

prime throat lozenges

I got these “throat lozenges” (more like mints) for free on the street of some city I visited this year on business. I liked the package, so I kept it. I finally got a scanner as an early Christmas present this past weekend. (Thanks, mom and dad!) Now I can throw it away. (The package, not the scanner.)

P.S. Yes, having a scanner means Chinese Calvin & Hobbes scans, and many, many other things, coming soon…


Dec 2004

Cunning McDonalds

We all know that that McDonalds has marketing masters guiding the conquest of every last prime urban location on the globe. Sometimes seeing the results of their efforts is kind of scary though.

McDonalds in Chinese kindergartens McDonalds in Chinese kindergartens

The two pictures above (click for the full images) were taken at separate kindergartens in Shanghai. And you can bet the phenomenon is more widespread here in China than just two kindergartens. I’ve seen a few other companies pull the same kind of advertising stunts in kindergartens, but McDonalds is way ahead of the competition.

I asked at the kindergarten which owns the McDonalds stand playset, and they did indeed buy it with their own money. The kids love that playset. (I don’t know the story for the other one; I was only there briefly.) But it’s pretty amazing… in China, too, people are buying products from McDonalds to advertise for free for McDonalds. Even in kindergartens.


Oct 2004

Disturbing Commercial

Last month I was in Yinchuan on business. I normally hate watching TV in China, but when I’m on a business trip, bored in a hotel at night, I’ll often turn the TV on. It was on one such instance that I happened to see a commercial which really disturbed me.

The beginning of the commercial had a man and a woman doing a soap opera-esque scene. I don’t remember it too clearly, because I wasn’t paying close attention at that point. Then in big letters some words popped on the screen: “Pregnant? Don’t know what to do?

I braced myself.

“Then let us take care of it!” they excitedly urged. The camera was panning a clean, attractive medical clinic. Yes, I was watching a TV commercial for an abortion clinic.

That was bad enough, but what totally went beyond tasteless was the “procedure” scene. There was a sideshot of a woman on the operating table, a doctor at her feet. The doctor’s hands were doing something between the woman’s legs, which was blocked by the woman’s legs and hospital gown. Meanwhile the narration continued, promising a fast, painless procedure that would not harm chances of future pregnancy.

I was repulsed. Regardless of your views on the morality of abortion, I think everyone can agree that it’s not a procedure which should be taken lightly.

I told my girlfriend about the commercial and asked if she’d ever seen a commercial like that on TV. She said no. She said a commercial like that would not get on the air in Shanghai.

She then went on to tell me that a lot of girls she knows (most of them young) have had abortions. One girl she knew was 23, married, and wanted to have a child, but couldn’t because she had had three abortions and was no longer capable of having children.

It all just makes me so sad….

NOTE: I’m a tolerant guy, but this is an especially sensitive issue. If your comment is intentionally offensive or tasteless it’s going to be deleted without hesitation.


Jul 2004

Get Paid for Reading Chinese News!

I seem to remember some hype a while back about a company that wanted to pay people for surfing the internet. It seems to have faded into obscurity since then. What I never expected is that now a Chinese company seems to be trying something similar! It’s called “NewsBar” (or something). [Note: As China is still happily suckling at Bill Gates’ bosom at least as far as browsers are concerned, this page is not Mozilla friendly.]

It works like this. You download the site’s “newsbar” and install it on your computer. Then you can accrue “news points” by reading Chinese news online (3-4 hours per day, max). At the end of the month, all “news points” are converted to RMB based on that month’s conversion rate (which varies, but has a guaranteed minimum value). The example they gave in the FAQ was someone earning 200 RMB in one month for 4,750,000 “news points.” I have no idea exactly how newspoints are calculated, and the FAQ doesn’t say.

The money can either be electronically deposited into one’s account or a money order can be sent by mail. 30 RMB is the minimum balance to cash out.

I just never would have imagined something like this would be attempted in China at this point. What’s next? Private websites earning real revenue through internet advertising in China??


Feb 2004

Staggering Extravagance

The Western media likes to write stories about how rich a very small portion of China’s population is becoming. Here’s further evidence of the trend in the form of an advertisement.

A Chinese friend recently drew my attention to this ad in Shangai Wednesday (上海星期三). The following is my (clumsy) translation of said ad:

The Ultimate Party

Portman Ritz-Carlton
–“888 Rose Romantic Voyage”

Whether it is a proclamation of love or a unique marriage proposal experience, the “888 Rose Romantic Voyage” ensemble will do its utmost to put romantic ambience into 888 roses forming a rose sea, as well as a hotel luxury limosine laden with champagne and a romantic melody, which will meet and carry the lovers to their destinations. The hall leading to the Greenberg Presidental Suite will be lined on both sides with rose bouquets. The presidential suite has received both past and present American presidents. Upon entering the presidential suite, a melodious 4 person string orchestra will accompany you. When it is time to retire for the evening, your bed will be adorned with rose petals in the shape of a heart. Various rose-scented gifts are included as well. A rose petal bath will be specially prepared for the lovers, as well as rose-flavored chocolate, rose petal tea, and the Summer Pavillion Restaurant’s gift of 8 courses of rose-inspired delicacies.

“888 Rose Romantic Journey”: RMB 88,888 [US$11,111] / night

This ad made me really curious, so I called directory assistance (“114” in China) and got the Portman Ritz-Carlton’s phone number. I called the hotel and asked to speak to a manager. I told her I was writing an article on their “888 Rose Romantic Voyage” offering for a website, and she was happy to answer a few questions. The additional information I gained was:

  • The Portman Ritz-Carlton is only 8 years old, so “past and present American presidents” amounts to two.
  • The “888 Rose Romantic Voyage” began a few months ago and is available year-round, not just on Valentine’s Day, pending availability of the presidential suite.
  • So far, one couple has purchased the “888 Rose Romantic Voyage.”
[Extended entry includes the text of the original Chinese ad.] (more…)


Jan 2004

Amusing Chinese Products #1

Here are some funny but real products I have found (and subsequently purchased) in the PRC. Click on the image for a fuller image, sometimes including additional angles.

1. Dr. Bang Liquid Soap

Click for expanded image

He’s Dr. Bang. That says it all, and leads us to…

2. “Sailor” Condoms

Click for expanded image

Look at how thrilled this guy is. “I’m gonna get laid!” He’s beaming. Some sailor.

3. The Douche Water Cup

Click for expanded image

I think this cup is for drinking water. Maybe.

4. “Crazy Toilet” Candy

Click for expanded image

This is a candy plunger which you use to dip into the syrup in the toilet bowl. Make sure to look at the instructions on the back in the full image.

5. Chinese Duracell Batteries rip off Energizer

Click for the Hong Kong Duracell Site

Anyone who’s been in China long has probably seen this pathetic Energizer bunny ripoff. He’s plastered all over Hangzhou. Click on the pic for the Hong Kong site, which is just chock full of the little pink bastard.


Jan 2004

Fix that Baopi!

Ad for foreskin surgery in Shanghai (click me!)Baopi is a Chinese word that means “foreskin.” You see the Chinese characters in the picture here. I am most familiar with the Chinese word in the context of foreigners’ propensity to mix it up with the word pibao (same characters), which means wallet or purse (literally, “leather bag”).

I was pretty surprised, then, to see these words jumping out at me from an ad on the Shanghai subway. Make sure to click on the picture to see the entire ad.

I’m not sure what baojing is. According to the characters, its literal translation would be “skin stalk.” If you want more information, you can go to this Chinese site, which provides nice graphical clarification. [WARNING: if you don’t want to look at male genitalia, don’t click on that link!]

Some other related terms are:

  • 包皮切除 (bao1 pi2 qie4 chu2) – circumcision
  • 包皮过长 (bao1 pi2 guo4 chang2) – redundant prepuce (literally, “foreskin too long”)
  • 包皮垢 (bao1 pi2 gou4) – smegma

Anyway, I found all that amusing to see on a subway. The ad advocates immediate surgery. The nurse is a nice touch, eh?