Friday 14 December 2007

Simple Semiotics

Earlier today I took a stroll northwards to the oldest shopping street in Bejing called Wan Fu Jing to think a bit more about retail communications and was confronted by some street advertising by Adidas. They pretty much 'own' the whole high street, which is either OK or just urban spam depending on your perspective. But let's park the media aperture question for a second because a lot of pants gets talked about semiotics in planning and so for a good pub bluff on the subject just ask yourself the question. Why are we unlikely to see this style of ad or the one below, appear during the London 2012 Olympics?

Of course there are still over four years to go and that whole shared endeavour thing might be in vogue by then. Lets see. Shortly afterwards, I nipped into a shopping mall for some noodles and I saw some more retail advertising and signage for a Chinese food chain that might just raise a smile. I am partial to a self referential joke now and again.

C'mon. In China? That's fucking brilliant isn't it? ;)

For the wise master's words (Bruce Lee was both articulate and a gentleman too) see my post on an interview with Mr Lee I posted over here.


  1. Love that second Adidas ad.

    I bet the meat in that restaurant was tender...

  2. As a long-term Campaign reader I am new to this weblog and frankly I am mystified at the absence of discussion of advertising awards and salaries.

  3. I absolutely HATE the Adidas spots and have told the client and the head of the agency who did it.

    Hell, even TBWA's head of creative around the region found it hard to defend - using words like 'quiet achiever'.

    It's bollocks on so many reasons - both because it is not truly representative of the IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING idea [though I can see how they could try and argue against this] but also because it is not tapping into the spirit many Chinese are treating the Olympics.

    Don't get me wrong, the people of China are some of the kindest, warmest most welcoming people on the planet - but for many, the Olympics is not a chance to hold a global sporting event, it's a chance to show the World the importance and value of a country they hold dear.

    Of course I am generalising and of course I know cultural and political issues affect much advertising creation there - but when I think of what Adidas could of done for China and the Olympics and then see this 'We're in it together' cliched bollicks, it just makes me very sad indeed.

  4. Talking of sad ... I recently saw a comment by WK's Global Planning Director for Nokia and it just felt like he was a guy who has no idea about the China market or its power potential.

    I am sure he's a good guy - and I've heard he is very talented - but some of the things he said were expressed in a manner as if he'd just found the answer to the meaning of life when for anyone who has spent anytime in this region, knows it's second best.

    This is the most dynamic, speedy and bloody frustrating region on earth - he'll need to be abit more tapped into what is going on if he is going to help Nokia thrive.

    Oooooh I'm such a bitch!

  5. Finally - the best Chinese marketing I've seen in quite a while was this bloke who had written his company name [an IT shop] on money and was handing it out to passers by.

    Evil, mad genius!

  6. ...and speaking of evil mad Genius Rob. Ha ha :)

    Mr Dodds. You're confused let me unconfuse you.

    Famous Rob - You are cracking me up with your comments these days :)

  7. You've got me thinking now Rob. You always do. That's why I love hanging out on your blog and when you chip in on mine. You're so right.

    I was explaining to a translator at the ministry for foreign affairs that China is the psychological leader of the world. The US have blown their goodwill post 911 and is effectively muted when it comes to moral leadership. It sits on a mountain of debt and obesity - two ends of the consumption chain that people need to reflect more on.

    I also shared that with China's growth should come a mature tone of voice, and that China needs to reflect their new stature and maturity when it talks to the international community. China would be so much more loved if it could do for the international community what the international community so wants to hear. A voice of kindness and moral leadership.

    That Adidas work is the mirror image of China that it so wants to see of itself. But the chance to do communications that embrace all peoples of the world as is the SPIRIT of the OLYMPIC games is huge - Its the chance of a lifetime.

    During a hard time for the United States during the Oil shocks of the early 70's and its involvement with another unwanted war in Vietnam, the Coca Cola company transcended that tension in its society with a message that lives on in me to this day. Call it a cliche but buying the world a coke embraced the world in a way that politics never could do.

    I'd like to see another 'Hilltop' ad come from China for the Olympics. They not only need it. They deserve it.

    Its for this reason that I think messages like 'Give a little love and it all comes back to you' or 'Hate something change something' are philosophical nuggets that mean our business can have a meaningful impact on the way we conduct our lives.

    Thanks for getting me going Rob. I'm revved up now :)