Chinese television actually isn’t as bad as most of us are inclined to think, we’ve chanced upon informative talkshows and documentaries on interesting subjects sometimes. But the rest of the time, horrendous TV commercials are on hand to remind us why we’re better off watching bootleg DVDs or Project Runway on Tudou.com.
Should anyone think nothing can be more jarring than Mr Whipple, then they haven’t seen the latest TVC by Shanghai-based wool clothing brand, Hengyuanxiang (恒源祥). Most TVCs in China succumb to the cheap tactic of brand salience by repetition – not only are TVCs re-run to death, each broadcast is typified by jingles/slogans that are looped 2-3 times at the end.
Hengyuanxiang’s TVC definitely takes the cake when CEO Liu Ruiqi thought he was adding a funny twist to the brand’s catchy “Hengyuanxiang, Yang Yang Yang!” (恒源祥,羊羊羊!) slogan by looping it 12 times for every animal in the Chinese Zodiac. Hardly surprising that the TVC ignited a public furore and eventually got pulled.
More surprising was the rosy account of the controversy painted on the company’s official website which praises the success of the TVC. In a Feb 21 news release by Hengyuanxiang’s Party Committee Propaganda Bureau (恒源祥党委宣传部), the TVC was claimed to be a resounding success:
… Generating much interest among netizens within a short period and “Hengyuanxiang Chinese Zodiac”-related phrases topped at least 2,800 links on Baidu search engine…. In welcoming the Year of the Rat, Hengyuanxiang Chinese Zodiac TVC has managed to make use of a catchy jingle in a simple and meaningful format, generating a flurry of debate and bringing festive cheer to the New Year.
Riiight. For the good of Chinese advertising, we hope that was only a face-saving formality and in fact Hengyuanxiang executives are already scurrying about looking for a competent ad agency behind the scenes. We wish them luck.
** The original black sheep is of course better known for its notable advertising campaigns, and not in any way related to wool processing companies, in China or elsewhere.