We just saw a commercial for Wang Wang coffee-flavored jelly drops (咖啡果冻) that made us pause and think. It featured a Caucasian man speaking Chinese. If you’ve seen these types of commercials, you probably know that the voices are dubbed over, and that the accented Chinese you’re hearing most likely a Chinese person faking a non-Chinese person’s accent.
The man says excitedly, “Wang Wang coffee-flavored jellies, we don’t have these in America.” (旺旺咖啡冻，我们美国没有!) He then says something else and then repeats: “Wang Wang coffee-flavored jellies, we really don’t have these in America! (旺旺咖啡冻,我们美国真的没有!)
This commercial also has a “Japanese version” (for the green tea flavored jellies) where an Asian female says “we don’t even have these in Japan!” We wonder if anyone really takes the whole idea of US and Japan=developed, materially affluent countries where you can find just about anything versus China, the developing country that is still lacking in the finer things of life. Of course, there’s truth to that, but we don’t really get the psychology behind this — because something has to “click” or elicit a response in a consumer, though we sure can’t tell if something like this would work. And look, we understand why they sometimes would want a foreigner in a commercial, we know that stereotypes are common in commercials and we know that commercials aren’t and shouldn’t be tethered to reality and can often be based on (sexual) fantasy — but again, sometimes it just gets tiresome.
This coffee-flavored jelly is a product of the Wang Wang Group’s, which was established in Taiwan and now seems to be based in Shanghai. Apparently, their previous commercials have always rubbed people the wrong way. In one of these commercials there is the line “last year you didn’t buy a Wang Wang product, so that year was not prosperous.” The character wang (旺) is defined in the Baidu dictionary like this:
2.nice and bright; brilliant
3.vigorous; prolific; productive
People were irked by this because this was tantamount to being “cursed” — if you don’t do this and something bad (or at least nothing that good) will happen to you — and it seems that even the relevant laws governing TV commercials states that you can’t openly sell some product by appealing to the superstitious side of people. Of course, it’s allowable for people to be pissed off for superstitious reasons, but superstition is one thing, and science another. Jelly drops are a popular snack among kids, but because of their particular size and shape, they can easily get stuck in the throats of young infants and children, which has lead to several deaths over the years and prompted the government to regulate the production and warning labeling on the products more strictly. We don’t know how strict they are about this, and we guess that we don’t care that much, since all our friends having babies in America really can’t buy these there and have one less thing to worry about.
Photo from tjkx.com.