Most big companies do their market research and target their markets well. This is part of the way business is done and how certain sneakers have found their way onto feet around the world. Sponsorships with key sports figured always make for good shoe movers, since most young people would like to be that step closer to their idol.
In China these ads are subtitled and work quite well. Additionally some local ads are also produced, usually with more flare than the average ads on tv. Competition for “hipness” is fierce between sneakers and cell phones, and ad agencies steop up the quality of ads for these products accordingly.
Recently Nike ran a very catchy Chinese ad. The visuals consisted of a snappy Chinese pick-up game of basketball on an indoor court. The ad’s slightly grainy quality yet ultra-bright color showcases excellent focus and motion tracking. The dollies used must have been fantastic because the motion was very smooth. The clincher for the ad was its soundtrack.
The initial background music was an early army anthem, with a wonderful grainy gramophone sound. The song has to be from the ’60s. Though it doesn’t mean too much to me, it is a revolutionary song everyone here is familiar with. The song crescendos through the first half of the ad and morphs into a Chinese hip-hop song to close out the ad. The ending is the classic Nike logo on a black screen.
The ad is well thought out and culturally appropriate. It is catchy and a lot of fun while being a very fresh Chinese ad that will sell sneakers. McDonald’s in China has also taken this kind of approach, coupling the music of Wang Li Hong into their ads for an entire new campaign and look.
After a three-week turnaround of this Nike ad, another ad took prevalence in airplay. This one is a direct carryover from the US market, complete with subtitles. The ad is titled Book of Dimes and features LeBron James. The ad is styled as a classic church revival, complete with organ and gospel choir, on a basketball court. The ad is fairly amusing if the viewer knows what a church is like and what a church revival looks like and if the viewer is fortunate enough to know the personalities in the ad.
Asking people I know around Shanghai, popular opinion supported my hypothesis. Most folks in China just don’t get the ad. It looks like some kind of basketball worship that makes little sense. I am curious what the thought was behind airing this ad here in China. Church references don’t go over well in this country, even in a world-savvy city like Shanghai. I find myself wondering what someone out in Tibet or rural Sichuan would think of this kind of ad. I’d imagine it would have the same impression of watching a cult ritual, possibly even going to far as to see the ceremony as a reason for the dark man’s prowess at the sport.