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China Marketing & Advertising

10 Popular Chinese Advertisement Slogans

The right tagline or advertising slogan is crucial for a brand’s identity. Due to the nature of Chinese language, ad slogans in China are often multi-layered and effective marketing tools. What’s on Weibo gives an overview of ten clever and popular Chinese (translated) marketing slogans.

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The right tagline or advertising slogan is crucial for a brand’s identity. Due to the nature of Chinese language, ad slogans in China are often multi-layered and effective marketing tools. What’s on Weibo gives an overview of ten clever and popular Chinese (translated) marketing slogans.

According to the 1958 bookCreative Advertising” by Charles Whittier, “a slogan should be a statement of such merit about a product or service that is worthy of continuous repetitive advertising; is worthwhile for the public to remember; and is phrased in such a way that the public is likely to remember it”. The right slogan is vital for a brand, no matter in what language or culture.

In Chinese marketing slogans have a double layer due to the nature of Chinese language, where not only the right sound, but also the right character matters. It makes slogans and catchphrases extra effective marketing tools.

For international brands taking on the Chinese market, translating their English slogan into Chinese is not just a matter of translation – it is a whole different ballgame that calls for a good copywriter. When companies are not serious about multicultural copywriting, their slogans will end up lost in translation.

Pepsi and KFC previously made blunders in China when Pepsi’s “Come alive with the Pepsi generation” tagline was translated into “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave”, and when KFC’s “Finger-lickin’ good” became “Eat your fingers off” (Business2community, Business News Daily). As marketing expert Rachel Chilson writes, the very nature of slogans makes them challenging to translate, especially because slogans are very creative, and often play on cultural idioms and puns.

Here is an overview of Chinese slogans, of both Chinese brands (the first 6) and international brands, that have done it right in China.

 

#1 “Reaching out from the heart
“沟通从心开始” Gōutōng cóng xīn kāishǐ (China Mobile)

China Mobile is China’s leading mobile service provider. Their Chinese slogan ‘沟通从心开始’ literally translates as ‘Connecting starts from the heart’, and is officially translated as ‘reaching out from the heart’, personalizing the brand. This brand message is similar to that of Nokia, that ‘connects people’.

nokia

 

#2 “Anytime, anywhere, share what’s happening around you
“随时随地分享身边的新鲜事儿” Suíshí suídì fēnxiǎng shēnbiān de xīnxiān shì er (Sina Weibo)

With 13 characters, Weibo’s tagline is not very short, but it is very clear and straightforward that literally tells people: “No matter what time, no matter what place, share the fresh things around you.” It emphasizes that China’s biggest social platform Sina Weibo is all about sharing new content and being mobile.

1-151124144Z30-L

 

#3 “Baidu it, then you know
“百度一下,你就知道” Bǎidù yīxià, nǐ jiù zhīdào (Baidu)

With this slogan, Baidu, China’s largest search engine and browser, puts itself next to its western counterpart Google by making ‘Baidu it’ (Bǎidù yīxià) almost like a verb, just as to Google something has become a verb.

imgres-1

 

#4 “The whole world is watching
“世界都在看” Shìjiè dōu zài kàn (Youku)

There are quite some Chinese brands that have ‘China’s best…’ or ‘China’s first…’ in their slogans, but China’s leading video platform Youku takes it to the next level: it is not just that China is watching Youku, the whole world is!

youku

 

#5 “A man’s world
“男人的世界” Nánrén de shìjiè (Goldlion 金利来)

Chinese men’s wear brand Goldlion has used the same slogan ever since the company started in 1970s. It’s a simple and short tagline, that basically states that Goldline is all about what men need.

goldlion

 

#6 “Let the world connect
“让世界一起联想” Ràng shìjiè yīqǐ liánxiǎng (Lenovo 联想)

The Chinese multinational Lenovo is actually called ‘Liánxiǎng’ (联想) in Chinese, which means ‘to associate’ or ‘to connect in one’s mind’. The slogan “let the world connect” in Chinese has a double meaning, as it also says “let the world Lenovo”. In English, Lenovo has two well-known slogans, of which one is “For those who do” and the other one is “New World. New Thinking”.

lenovo-hq

 

#7 “I’m Loving It
“我就喜欢” Wǒ jiù xǐhuān (McDonald’s)

The worldwide English slogan of McDonald’s roughly translates to ‘I just like it’ (wǒ jiù xǐhuān) in Chinese. According to some critics, this is not a proper translation, as the ‘just’ (就) could be seen as having a negative sound, as if someone just accused you of eating garbage, and then responding: “But I just like it”, or: I like it no matter what you say!

imgres-2

 

#8 “Because You’re Worth It
“你值得拥有” Nǐ zhídé yǒngyǒu (L’Oréal)

The famous tagline of beauty brand L’Oréal ‘because you’re worth it’ literally translates as ‘you deserve to have it’ in Chinese. The slogan has become famous in China, where the sentence even has its own Baidu ‘wiki’ page.

dewy glow dps 120810

 

#9 “Maybe she’s born with it, Maybe it’s Maybelline
“美来自内心,美来自美宝莲” Měi láizì nèixīn, měi láizì Měibǎolián (Maybelline)

The American Maybelline cosmetics have a smart slogan translation in Chinese, where their tagline has multiple layers in meaning. Literally it translates as “Beauty comes from within, beauty comes from Maybelline”, but what makes it so appealing is that the word/character for ‘beauty’ (美) is repeated three times. The Chinese translation for ‘Maybelline’ is the three- character-word ‘美宝莲’ (Měi-bǎo-lián, ‘beauty’-‘treasure’-‘lotus’). In the tagline it thus says that “beauty comes from within, beauty comes from ‘beauty-treasure-lotus'”. What makes it extra smart is that the character for beauty is also that of the ‘United States’ (美国 Měiguó) – where the Maybelline brand comes from, and that it sounds similar to the ‘May’ of the English ‘Maybe’.

Maybelline

 

#10 “Have It Your Way
“我选我味” Wǒ xuǎn wǒ wèi (Burger King)

Wǒ xuǎn wǒ wèi brilliantly translates ‘have it your way’ as ‘I choose my taste’. The translation sounds good in Chinese for multiple reasons. Firstly, it has four characters, corresponding to the four words in the English. Second, the ‘wèi’ in ‘I choose my taste’ actually means ‘taste’, but in sound and pronunciation corresponds to ‘way’ in English. Lastly, it has a repetition of ‘I’ in the Chinese 味 (literally “I choose I taste”), that is playful and emphasises the idea that it’s all about what you want at Burger King.

BurgerKing


Translation of Chinese-to-English slogans are author’s own.

Want to add another slogan? Leave a comment or tweet it to @whatsonweibo.

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Diandian GUO

    March 29, 2016 at 9:12 am

    I like the translated name of Midea: Mei Di (美的). It is so smart to use the polyphony here. ‘的’ when pronounced “di” correspond to /dea/. But when read in character, “的” is more commonly read as “de”, then the name means “beautiful”.
    Another slogan I used to like was one for Panpan security doors. They will have a small panda holding a key (or something the like), beside which is the slogan: Panpan comes home, a safe house and a smooth career. (盼盼到家,安居乐业)
    Translating iPhone as AiFeng (爱疯,unofficial)is simply scandalous…

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China Arts & Entertainment

“What Is Peppa?” – Viral Ad Campaign for ‘Peppa Pig’ Movie Makes the British Pig More Chinese Than Ever

It’s the Chinese new year of Peppa Pig.

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A new ad campaign for the upcoming Peppa Pig movie features a grandfather living in rural China who goes on a quest to find out what Peppa is. The commercial is a huge success on Chinese social media, and strikes a chord with netizens for touching upon various societal and cultural issues. Peppa is more Chinese than ever now.

“What is Peppa?” That is the question that is currently going viral on Chinese social media, with the hashtag #WhatisPeppa (#啥是佩奇#) receiving a staggering 400 million times on social media platform Weibo at time of writing.

The reason for the trend is an ad campaign, titled ‘What’s Peppa’, promoting the Peppa Pig Celebrates Chinese New Year film, a production by Entertainment One and China’s Alibaba Pictures.

The promotional video (5:39 length, watch featured video), that came out via various online channels on January 17, focuses on a grandfather living in a remote rural village who is anticipating the Spring Festival reunion with his son and his family, who now live in a big city.

The grandfather, named Yu Bao, wants to know what gift to get for his little grandson. When calling his family on a bad connection through his old 2G mobile phone, the word “Peppa” is all he gets from his little grandson before his phone breaks down. But what’s Peppa?

Yu Bao then goes on a comical mission to find out what Peppa is: looking it up in the dictionary, asking his friends -who are just as oblivious as he is-, and asking the entire village.

At the local shop, it is suggested that ‘Peppa’ is some kind of shampoo.

Eventually, one of the female villagers, who used to be a nanny, knows what Peppa is. She tries to explain it to Yu Bao, who now even seems willing to paint his own pig pink for his grandson. She explains that it is a pink cartoon pig whose face looks somewhat like a traditional fire blower.

With some guidance, the grandfather then goes to work and creates a unique ‘Peppa Pig’ gift from a metal air-blower to surprise his grandson during Chinese New Year.

But much to his disappointment, he then receives a phone call from his son, who tells him they are not coming home for Chinese New Year – before the connection drops again.

As grandpa, sad and lonely, is walking by the side of the road, his son suddenly appears in his car, telling him that the connection dropped too soon; he was not just telling him the family was not coming for Chinese New Year, he was trying to tell him that they invited him to come to their home instead.

When the family is finally reunited, it is time for the proud grandfather to show the result of his difficult quest for Peppa to his grandson.

The grandpa’s mission is complete: he gives his grandson a one-of-a-kind Peppa Pig.

The commercial ends with the entire family enjoying the upcoming Peppa film in the cinema together. When a friend from the village calls the grandfather to let him know he finally found Peppa thanks to his new smartphone, Yu Bao says: “It’s okay, I found Peppa already!”

The last shot of the video shows Yu Bao’s friend, a sheepherder, standing with his new phone, while someone in the back plays the tune of the Peppa cartoon. The big slogan on the wall is partly based on a popular catchphrase from another Chinese ad, and says: “At the start of the New Year, don’t accept gifts; the whole family goes to the city to watch Peppa instead.”

 

What’s Peppa Pig?

 

Peppa Pig is a popular children’s cartoon that first aired as a British animated television series (produced by Astley Baker Davies) in May of 2004. It took more than eleven years before the show was officially launched in the PRC (CCTV/June 2015).

The Peppa Pig family, including George.

Since then, Peppa Pig has become one of the most popular programs for preschoolers in China. But not just preschoolers love the pig; it has also become highly popular among young adults, who wear Peppa t-shirts, Peppa watches, and are major consumers of China’s thriving Peppa industry.

In 2018, Chinese popular short video app Douyin (also known in English as Tik Tok) removed approximately 30,000 short videos relating to British cartoon Peppa Pig from its platform, as Peppa had turned into somewhat of a subversive symbol to a Chinese online youth subculture dubbed ‘shehuiren‘ (社会人) (read more here).

This news item led to some confusion in Western media, where it was often suggested that Peppa was completely banned in China. She is, in fact, not banned; she is now more popular than ever.

 

Peppa the Movie

 

Amid the huge success of Peppa in China, it was announced in the summer of 2018 that Chinese tech giant Alibaba was working together with Entertainment One on the release of a Peppa Pig movie especially for the Chinese market, as this year’s Chinese New Year is the start of the Year of the Pig.

The movie, titled ‘Peppa Pig Celebrates New Year’ (小猪佩奇过大年), is set for a nationwide release on February 5, the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year. This is the most popular time for big blockbusters to come out, as many people are free during Chinese New Year and have the time to go out to the cinema together with their families.

The movie itself revolves around Peppa and little brother George and their parents, who are having a reunion for the Spring Festival. It features various Chinese traditions, and of course, something unexpected will happen.

 

Why This Peppa Ad Campaign is So Brilliant 

 

The Peppa ad has really struck a chord on Chinese social media for various reasons. The video was directed by Beijing director Zhang Dapeng (张大鹏, 1984), who also directed the actual Peppa movie, and the campaign is also sponsored by China Mobile.

What this ad campaign does:

It mixes the love for Peppa with the warm feeling of Chinese family reunions during Chinese New Year.

It presents a nostalgic idea of the Chinese village community, where neighbors come together and look out for each other.

It touches upon the issue of China’s rapid urbanization, that has caused many villages to become deserted and isolated as younger generations have settled in the cities.

It highlights how China’s digitalization is leaving behind its elderly population (read more here).

It shows the strong grandparent–grandchild relationship; usually, Chinese grandparents play an active role in raising grandchildren, something that has been changing due to younger generations moving to the city.

In other words; the advertisement completely draws the figure of Peppa Pig into a Chinese socio-cultural context, where it symbolizes the strong connection between Chinese families amid China’s rapid urbanization and digitalization.

By now, the Peppa campaign is making its rounds from Weibo to WeChat and elsewhere on the Chinese internet, with some online sellers already offering a remake of the Peppa present for sale as a collector’s item. Bloomberg reports that Chinese stocks connected to Peppa Pig have surged after the clip went viral yesterday and today.

“I give this video 100 points!” some commenters on social media write, with others saying it has made them tear up. “This already is the best ad campaign of the year.”

Peppa was already a famous figure in China, but with this viral hit and the upcoming movie, the British pig really has become a part of China’s popular culture and media environment: it’s the Chinese new year of Peppa Pig.

 

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Marketing & Advertising

When Ad Breaks Get Weird: Branded Content in Chinese TV Dramas Is Ruining It For the Viewers

China’s ubiquitous inserted ad marketing is alienating viewers from their favorite TV drama characters.

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Ad breaks can be annoying, but when it’s the main character of your favorite historical drama promoting the latest smartphone, it can actually ruin the viewer experience. In recent online discussions, China’s ubiquitous ‘Inserted Ad Marketing’ (中插广告), that goes beyond product placement, is being attacked by netizens and media.

A 2017 Ad Age article on the high levels of branded content in China’s online TV argues that Chinese viewers generally do not mind embedded marketing. They have allegedly become so used to to all kinds of branded distractions in TV shows, dramas, and films, that it is just “another part of the entertainment” (Doland 2017). But recent discussions on Chinese social media signal that the general sentiments regarding inserted sponsored content are changing.

On January 6, Chinese author Ma Boyong (@马伯庸, 4.5 million followers) posted an article on Weibo in which he criticized the phenomenon of inserted ad content in Chinese television series, saying the marketing style often does not suit the characters and is making the actors less credible.

Although Ma does not oppose to embedded marketing per se, he argues it hurts the credibility of TV dramas and the viewer’s experience when it does not blend in with the style of the TV drama and its characters.

One of the TV dramas where the sponsored segments ‘hurt’ the show, according to Ma, is Mystery of Antiques (古董局中局, 2018) that is based on one of the author’s novels. The actor Qiao Zhenyu (乔振宇), who plays the leading role, allegedly “looks like a fool” because of the inserted ad.

The type of advertising, that is central to this recent discussion, goes beyond product placement; it is the type of ad that appears inside (online) TV shows in which the actors, in character, straightforwardly promote a certain brand and product, sometimes in a scene dialogue (‘storyline ads’), but also often while looking directly into the camera (see example here or here, Chinese term: zhōngchā guǎnggào 中插广告).

The hashtag ‘Ma Boyong Roasts Inserted Ad Marketing’ (#马伯庸吐槽中插广告#) had received more than 50 million views on Weibo by Sunday night, with the overall majority of people supporting the author’s stance.

“Finally someone says this,” one commenter said: “When it just started out, it was new, and I could endure it, but now it just really annoys me.” “It is really disruptive,” others agree.

 

A New Kind of Money-Making Machine

 

China’s history of TV advertisement is not a long one; it wasn’t until 1979 that China’s first TV commercial was aired. Since then, the industry has blossomed, and branded content has become ubiquitous; the first TV drama incorporating product placement was broadcasted in 1991 (Li 2016).

Product placement is known as a powerful marketing tool since it is inescapable, has a long shelf life, is inexpensive, and unobtrusive (Huan et al 2013, 508). But as China’s product placement has been turning into ‘branded entertainment’ within the settings of the show, it is losing its ‘unobtrusiveness.’

Unsurprisingly, this is not the first time this type of advertising receives criticism. In 2017, various Chinese media, such as People’s Daily, noted the rise of inserted product ads, stating that TV dramas were “shooting themselves in the foot” with these ad campaigns.

China’s popular ‘inserted ad breaks’ remind of the weird and obvious product placement mocked in The Truman Show (1998).

When the protagonist of a dynastic costume drama suddenly promotes a new smartphone app during an inserted ad break, he falls out of character, and the entire drama loses credibility. Do you remember those weird ad breaks in the famous American movie The Truman Show? Even Truman did not fall for that!

Cartoon by People’s Daily

In China, this particular type of advertising can be traced back to the 2006 TV drama My Own Swordsman (武林外传), in which the characters suddenly turn to the camera in promoting a “White Camel Mountain” medicinal powder (watch the famous segment here).

Although that scene was for entertainment purposes only (the product was non-existent), it became reality in 2013, when the TV series Longmen Express (龙门镖局) first started using this kind of ‘creative’ advertising. Many online dramas then followed and started to use these inserted ads, especially since 2015 (Beijing Daily 2017). The promoted products are often new apps or money lending sites.

In the beginning, many people appreciated the novel way of advertising, and as the online video industry rose, so did the price of such advertisements. In a timeframe of roughly two years, their price became ten times higher. These type of ‘ad breaks’ have become an important and relatively easy money-making machine for drama productions (Beijing Daily 2017). In 2016 alone, Chinese TV drama productions made 800 million rmb (±116 million USD) through this marketing method – a figure that has been on the rise ever since.

 

The V-Effect: From Vips to Verfremdung

 

In China’s flourishing online streaming environment, one of the problems with inserted ad campaigns is that even ‘VIP members’ of popular video sites such as iQiyi cannot escape them, nor ‘skip’ them, even though they pay monthly fees to opt out of commercials (similar to YouTube Premium).

“The reason I signed up for a VIP membership is to avoid ads, and now we get this,” many annoyed netizens comment on Weibo.

Although that is one point that many people are dissatisfied with, the biggest complaint on social media regarding the inserted ad phenomenon is that it breaks down audience engagement in the show they are watching, and alienates them from the character, which is also known as verfremdungseffekt, distancing effect, or simply the ‘V-effect,’  a performing arts concept coined by German playwright Bertolt Brecht in the 1930s.

The “direct adress” of Frank Underwood in House of Cards is one of the reasons the show became such a hit.

The Brechtian “direct address” technique, one of the characteristics that made the American TV series House of Cards so successful, is employed to “break the fourth wall” – the imaginary wall between the actors and audience  – and serves a clear purpose: it makes viewers less emotionally attached to the characters and the narrative, it makes them more conscious and less likely to ‘lose themselves’ in the show they are watching, and is meant to provoke a social-critical audience response.

But this is exactly the faux pas China’s ubiquitous ‘creative inserted ads’ make in letting popular TV drama characters promote a new app or soda; it is not meant to provoke a social-critical response, it is meant to advertise a product. But by alienating audiences from the show for a commercial and non-meaningful purpose, they actually reach the opposite effect of what their marketing objective is. Audiences become annoyed, less engaged, and ‘exit the show’ (in Chinese, the term ‘出戏’ [disengage from the performance] is used).

“These kind of ads make the entire drama seem so low,” a typical comment on Weibo says. “What can we do? As long as people pay for it, they’ll do it,” others say.

Despite the recent attack on China’s ‘branded entertainment,’ there is no sign of a change in these marketing techniques. Perhaps, if critique persist, this might change in the future. For now, disgruntled viewers turn to social media to vent their frustrations: “These ads completely make me lose interest in the story, they need to be criticized. I’m happy someone stood up to say it.”

By Manya Koetse

References

Beijing Daily (北京日报). 2017. “创意中插广告泛滥,唯独缺了创意” [The Overflow of Creative Inserted Ads, Only They’re Lacking Creativity] (in Chinese). Beijing Daily, Oct 18. Available online http://bjrb.bjd.com.cn/html/2017-10/18/content_183998.htm [Jan 6th 2019].

Doland, Angela. 2017. “China’s online TV pushes product placement to crazy levels. Even crazier: Viewers don’t mind.” Ad Age, May 16. Vol.88(10), p.0030.

Huan Chen , En-Ying Lin , Fang Liu & Tingting Dai. 2013. “‘See Me or Not, I Am There’: Chinese White-Collar Moviegoers’ Interpretation of Product Placements in Chinese Commercial Movies.” Journal of Promotion Management, 19:5, 507-533.

Li, Hongmei. 2016. Advertising and Consumer Culture in China. Cambridge: Polity Press.


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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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