Monday, February 7, 2011

A little TOO carried away

Last class we watched news clips of the Chinese ad promoting the Chinese president's visit to the United States. With an apparent "go big or go home" mentality, the the ad was put in Times Square, NYC, and slated to run some 300 times a day for three days straight. Seems pretty impressive....until you see the video. The video shows what China believed to be international celebrities (who?) standing still while their names were superimposed on the screen (Good, because I sure didn't know who the heck they were).

This ad seems to be a failed attempt of China to use soft power. The term soft power, coined by Joseph Nye in the early 1990's, is basically the ability to make others want what you want, achieved by using intangible resources like culture, ideologies and institutions (Zahran and Ramos). China tried to identify with the American public by showing figures they thought held some relevance and credibility for Americans. This seemed to fail as I'm pretty sure not many Americans could name some of the people depicted if you paid them. What the ad DID show was sticky power, meaning economic power. The ad showed that China can afford to obnoxiously stream a bunch of jumbo-trons in Times Square 24/7, and by that I am impressed.


  1. I agree. It seems that China was only able to show off its culture and increase its visibility with this ad. In terms of soft power, however, this initiative fails to make the connection between visibility and affinity. If the goal were to create affinity, then China was not successful because it failed to understand its audience.

  2. I think the main reason for that campaign not working was exactly what Renee said - the people who put that advertisement/promotion together didn't know their audience. Even if it was just to get people talking, it still wouldn't have been successful. I think that in the future, if the Chinese government wants to do more of these ads, the producers should treat it more like marketing a product.