The good people at Ogilvy have polled the Chinese peoples and the results are out: Despite knowing almost nothing about the USA Pavilion (and maybe because of that), the Chinese want to check that out the most.
The study, which polled 14,337 respondents in the late months of 2009 is a follow-up to a previous survey done in early 2009. Of all those people, 48% (the highest amount) said they were going to visit the USA pavilion (as Ogilvy notes, “in spite of favorability, image or presentation”). Men were most likely to pick the USA pavilion, with 51% saying they want to visit it – Japan and France vied for second place at just 35% each. Women were a little less likely to care, with only 42% being drawn to the U.S. while 39% were interested in France and 31% were curious about the U.K.
Yet, it seems like, despite wanting to check it out, Chinese people didn’t really care that much for what it looks like. The USA pavilion only ranked in the middle of a poll on pavilion design, good 18% calling it “ordinary.” Rather, they were wowed by the visions of their own pavilion (unsurprising), and those by Nordic nations – Denmark, Finland and Switzerland all won high marks. So did Singapore – we guess Durian Star wasn’t as loopy a mascot as we thought.
The news of the USA Pavilion’s popularity amongst the Chinese comes as it becomes much less popular amongst actual US citizens. As Adam Minter points out, the architecture and design community has taken notice and they aren’t pleased. Acclaimed New York-based architecture and design writer William Bostwick has called the USA pavilion (and the Canadian one, which by the way, almost ties the US in mediocrity in the view of the Chinese) “the biggest jokes.”
What disturbs us most though, besides the unanswered Freedom of Information Act requests about why the USA is getting so little for so much money and whatever conflicts of interest may be wading under the surface, is this description by Bostwick of what the pavilion would feature:
…it’s a mash-up of weird conceits and technological gee-gaws, meant to evoke a Chinese-American woman’s life in 2030 via something called a “4-D multimedia theater.”
We had heard rumors that the pavilion team’s original proposal went something like this: A Chinese-American woman in 2030 reflects on how she immigrated to the United States and then became successful, thus realizing the American dream. We thought someone, shocked by their lack of understanding of even the most basic tenets of the Chinese psyche, had told them to go back to the drawing board on that… and we’re hoping this new “Chinese-American woman in 2030” story really is something different.
Because if it is a poor girl leaves backwards home to find fortune in nation of streets paved with gold story, we’re pretty sure the Ogilvy poll in June 2010 could have a “Pavilion Chinese people most want to set fire to” section, and the USA will be topping that as well.