Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A case of East meets West

Hi, I’m Cindy Shao. I am a marketing graduate and have been working on placement with AME Marketing for the past month. I decided to get in on the blogging act and write about an advert that caught my attention recently - VO5’s “Extreme Style - Chinese School”.

Nowadays many companies are using foreign themes for local advertising campaigns and this advert does indeed bring a slice of Chinese culture to the UK market. Set in a strict Chinese School all the young men and women are dressed alike and even have the same hairstyle. To break free of the conformity, one young man encourages a young woman to use VO5 gel, to liven up their style and break away from their strict rules.

Using the gel to shape their hair extremely differently from the others, the two now appear unique, standing out from their peers. Their style is against the school rules however, so their teacher orders them from the classroom. They gleefully leave and hold hands together (also against the rules) to run out of the school with happiness and freedom. As they run through the streets everyone stares at the two teenagers, aghast at their extremely ‘mad’ hairstyles and unacceptable behaviour.

For anyone who understands Chinese history in 1960s, it is a fantastic advert. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the mid 1960s, which was used as a backdrop to the advert, everyone dressed alike and had similar hairstyles not only at school, but also throughout the whole country. As in the advert, couples were not even able to hold hands in the public. The content of the advert manages to reflect this to great effect.

My only criticism of the advert would be that even teenagers in China may not understand or know about the cultural revolution, therefore VO5 should not assume that foreigners are familiar with China’s history. In today’s western society, the hairstyle and behaviour of the teenagers is the norm and completely acceptable. But, under the background of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the whole content of the advert converts to be unique and beyond the frame of the rule. In China it is likely that the ad could achieve great success, but in the UK, where there is not a firm understanding of Chinese history, it may be less effective.

What do you think?



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