One of the things that makes being on the tube during rush hour even more miserable than we had previously imagined possible is the “film” made by Starbucks and Pepsi showing on the subway TV. Titled 晴天日记 (Qingtian riji), the film is about a young man and a young woman, blah blah blah. Of course the film takes place in Shanghai but most of the scenes take place in Starbucks. We think the whole rationale behind “soft-advertising” is that it’s supposedly better than “hard-advertising” or traditional advertising. Honestly, we prefer the traditional type as a lesser of two evils. Soft advertising is supposedly less in-your-face, but in our media saturated world we all notice it (it would be a failure if we didn’t), but we resent all the insinuations and false associations that soft-advertising relies on.
But don’t listen to us, here it is from the straight from the horse’s mouth:
The actors say that to connect with an audience that will be watching on small screens in a swaying subway, they kept dialogue and movement to a minimum. In one shot, Sunny slowly twists a bottle filled with water and guppies – to reveal the Starbucks “Mocha” label.
“It’s a new medium,” says Director John Xiao Qi. A film with strong elements of a commercial isn’t a compromise, he reasons, as “It’s easier for the audience to accept the message because of the setting.”
We’ve seen this “film” several times, and there’s nothing subtle about it—most of the scenes take place in Starbucks, with the logo ever present. Furthermore, where do you get off saying that “the audience can accept it more because of the setting.” Statements like this really tick us off because this type of marketing malarkey involves insulting the intelligence of the audience—that is, all of us—while all the chimps at the board meetings congratulate themselves for being so smart for thinking up such a scheme. Sure you’ve got a captive audience, who are “bored”, but at least from our personal experience, watching that small flat-screen TV when the subway is moderately or very crowded is a futile exercise at best. If the subway cars were empty, we’d probably find a seat as soon as we could, which might be far enough from the TV to make viewing impossible. This is perhaps why the product placement is so egregious—they really don’t care if you can read the subtitles or follow the plot. Of course, that’s the not the bad thing—the bad thing is that everyone knows this.
Starbucks is in the game to win the game, and we respect that. We’ve noticed recently that Frappucinos are being sold in convenience stores as well as Starbucks itself. What we don’t get it is why it’s more expensive to buy in Starbucks than it is in All Days, but who really cares, since it was a shit drink to begin with. Whoever designed that drink has evidently never heard of a disease called diabetes.
If you’re interested in seeing the series, most of the episodes broadcast can be found on video-sharing sites such as Tudou. It looks like they are up episode eight on the video above. Each episode is about three minutes in length. Here’s a link to the various episodes:
In other Starbucks news, you might have heard that Starbucks recently opened its first store in Xi’an. Welcome to civilization, Xi’an! A colleague of ours went there recently, and snapped a picture.
It’s easily the most interesting design of all the Starbucks stores we’ve ever seen.