Want to get married at McDonald's? Soon, you could be in luck

By T.L. Stanley on Fri Oct 15 2010

Mcdonalds_wedding

You can set up a wedding registry at the 99 Cents Only store. So, why not complete the white-trash/recession-minded circle with a wedding at McDonald's? Too bad such a thing is not in the U.S. just yet, but the fast-food restaurant will start offering wedding packages in its Hong Kong locations early next year. Ronald McDonald might even show up! (Just don't ask him to officiate. He hasn't done the Internet preacher course yet.) Reps said they started the wedding program in response to "about 10 calls a month" from people who wanted to celebrate their nuptials under the Golden Arches. Not one to let a business opportunity pass, McDonald's is setting up packages that include "cakes" made of burgers or apple pies, and French fries to be used, Lady and the Tramp style, for the happy couple's kiss. McMazel tov!

Dior's copy-and-paste Chinese ad campaign being labeled racist

By David Kiefaber on Tue Aug 31 2010

Dior-Shanghai-Dreamers

Dior's "Shanghai Dreamers" ad campaign, featuring row after row of copied-and-pasted Chinese men and women flanking a tall Western model, has struck a chord with people, and not a pleasant one. For one thing, the image of a Westerner standing out among identical Chinese people appears to some observers (like the Guardian's Jenny Zhang and Artinfo's Madeleine O'Dea) as racist Orientalism, and the Cultural Revolution-era clothing was taken as an indelicate callback to a sensitive time in Chinese history. Quentin Shih, the artist behind the campaign, explained that he wanted to "express a dialogue between Chinese fashion ... and Western fashion," and that he intended the Dior model "only to represent the clothes, not herself and not a Western people." Actual Shanghai resident Elaine Chow more or less agreed with this, noting that "China's own fetishistic use of white models in advertising" produces a similar effect. I wouldn't go so far as to call the ad racist, but it is provocative. But I don't think it will hurt Dior much either way—this is small beer in a business where black models are whitened in Photoshop pretty regularly.

Asian-language advertising isn't just for Asian people anymore

Posted on Wed Oct 28 2009

Asia

Out-of-home media may be TiVo-proof, but it has the same clutter issues as other forms of advertising. But lately in New York, a couple of marketers have found a way to at least earn a second look from the city's jaded populace: by using Asian writing. This ad for Citizen Chrono-Time A-T collection, for instance, features the headline "To the world," but you'd only know that if you speak Japanese (or, like Brandweek's own Elaine Wong, are fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin and thus can decipher the kanji script) or read the fine print. A Citizen rep said the ad was developed for the Japanese market, and the model is a famous Japanese actor/singer who goes by the name Mr. Fukuyama. Meanwhile, Bristol-Meyers Squibb is running outdoor ads in New York well north of Chinatown featuring an Asian man in a black turtleneck who looks like he's about to be attacked by a snake. That headline is in Mandarin, and the goal is to raise awareness for Hepatitis B, which over-indexes to the Chinese population. "We believe that people are more likely to listen and act upon information if it is given to them in a culturally relevant format or in their native language," says a rep. True, but you'll also get the attention of non-Mandarin speakers wondering what's going on. 

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Those crazy Japanese and their rape-simulation video games

Posted on Tue Feb 24 2009

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And you thought Grand Theft Auto was violent.
  RapeLay, a game created in 2006 by a Japanese company called Illusion, features a main character, Kimura Masaya, who stalks and rapes a mother and her daughters. The gameplay also involves an option to force the women to have abortions. Following an outcry earlier this month, the game has been banned from Amazon and eBay. Today, New York advocates have demanded that the game be made unavailable permanently.
  My question is: How did something so horrifyingly disgusting get produced in the first place?
 
—Posted by Kenneth Hein

'Slumdog Millionaire' effect is beginning to be felt in advertising

Posted on Tue Feb 17 2009

Toss some Emergen-C into a glass of water and what do you get? One thousand milligrams of vitamin C, "naturally energizing" B vitamins, protection in cold and flu season and ... Bollywood dancers!?
  Is it a stretch to call this the Slumdog Millionaire effect? The Mumbai rags-to-riches love story has made nearly $80 million at the box office and gathered a boatload of awards in the last few months. It will vie for 10 Oscars on Sunday. Why wouldn't it start to influence the marketing world?
  Alacer Corp.'s Emergen-C digs zeitgeist-y ads, having aired one in the Super Bowl a few years back in which Bruce Lee (in vintage film clips) emerges from the fizzy bubbles to karate chop any and all illnesses. This candy-colored 15-second spot, set to a sitar-heavy soundtrack, has a boy-meets-girl, everybody-dances story that's common in Bollywood movies and keeps audiences in their seats until the final Slumdog credits roll. Nobody wants to miss that joyous group shimmy at the end.
  Smooth move, Emergen-C. We're feeling the good, all right.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Japanese kids break off a piece of that KitKat bar for good luck

Posted on Wed Feb 4 2009

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If I were an actor about to appear on a Broadway stage, you might tell me to "break a leg" for good luck. If I were a Japanese student about to take my college entrance exams, you'd simply break me off a piece of that KitKat bar.
  In Japanese culture, it is believed that KitKats bring good luck to students each spring. Students sometimes spend a year or two at pricey private schools prepping for the tests, so a lot rides on them. It is therefore customary to engage in various superstitions—likethe use of lucky language charms—to increase one's chances of doing well. "Kitto Katto," as the candy is called in Japan, sounds similar to the Japanese phrase "kitto katsu," which roughly translates to "You shall surely win/be victorious." Conversely, there are "unlucky" soundalike words in Japanese, according to the Web site Snopes.com, so households may ban the use of those for, say, "slip" or "fall" around students during test time.
  Nestlé has launched a limited-edition "Sakura KitKat" in honor of these students cramming for exams. (The chocolate bars are marketed by Hershey's in the U.S. but by Nestlé in Japan.) The wrapper features a pink-and-white cherry-blossom design that serves as a symbol for the April test-taking season. The confectioner's Japanese Web site features a TV commercial in which a grandfather mails a special KitKat care package to his hard-studying granddaughter. The term "sakura saku" translates to "the cherry-blossom blooms," and is used to congratulate someone who has passed a college-entrance exam.

—Posted by Becky Ebenkamp


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