When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

China

The Chinese Art Of Product Placement: Look Who's In New Transformers Blockbuster

The market is suddenly booming for getting cameos in blockbuster movies for everything from Chinese computers to clothes to milk. Just make sure the movie isn’t made in China.

(DoktorSpinn)
(DoktorSpinn)
XIN Haiguang

Levono's computers, Metersbonwe's clothes, Yili's milk and TCL televisions all take supporting roles in the new Transformers: Dark of the Moon film from Paramount. Metersbonwe already showed up in the last Transformers, but it's a first for the other three brands.Apart from being a Hollywood blockbuster, Transformers is a major product placement hit. It's said that as many as 68 brands were placed in the film which has brought in $400 million for the film's investors. It also represents a transformable Christmas must-have from HasbroToys.

It is too early to predict Chinese spectators' reaction to product placement in a Hollywood film. Generally, Chinese people hate advertising placed in shows or films, which is at its peak in the Spring Festival evening TV show or in Chinese film super-productions. The comedian Zhou Libo quipped: "I strongly protest against the Spring Festival's spots in the advertising slots!"

Nevertheless, the Chinese distaste of advertising placement isn't such an issue when it comes to foreign films. The number of advertisements in the Transformers series is enormous, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen still managed to break the box-office record held by Titanic for 12 years. It was in this film that for the first time a Chinese brand was placed, Metersbonwegarments. Not only do Chinese spectators not complain about such ads, they are in fact quite pleased to see a Chinese brand landing in Hollywood - and the Metersbonwe clip from Transformers went viral as a video highlight on the Internet.

Although the "West-worshipping" factor does partly explain why Chinese react differently to placements in a Chinese or foreign films, the film's production quality is still the most important reason. In reality, it's in classics, like Forrest Gump where Gump's favorite drink is Dr. Pepper, that ads are both the most obvious and most well-done. In Hollywood, the most famous film director, Steven Spielberg, is also the most daring in product placement marketing.

Hollywood rules

Through the experiment of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, advertising agencies in both the U.S. and China found that China is the best market for product placement. The biggest Hollywood agency in this field, NMA, immediately set up a branch in Beijing. The "hot ad money" now runs from China to the U.S.

Though China and the U.S. have become important trade partners, cooperation and interaction in the film industry is rare. According to The Washington Post, Hollywood openly welcomes outsiders' investment, whereas job opportunites are generally closed. There are fewer Chinese in Hollywood than on Wall Street. Liu Siru was one of the few who made it. She conceived the marketing campaigns for the Chinese brands in the last two Transformers hits, and had previously worked for Columbia Pictures and NMA's Chinese office before launching her own company, Filmworks. Through her match-making, the Transformer robot became Levono's ThinkPad and Josh Duhamel drinks Shuhua milk in the film.

Last year, in Wall Street 2, Zhang Xin, the CEO of SOHO China, a big real estate group, appeared as a big foreign investor who Wall Street tries to fawn over.

There are in fact certain risks that Chinese brands have to take if they want to market themselves in Hollywood films - mainly censorship in China. Even if the examination procedure has gone through and the film can be shown in China, there could be other factors affecting the film's release. For instance, the Chinese film, Beginning of the Great Revival, promoted by the Communist Party of China, will be shown before Transformers 3, which has been pushed back to late July. And it could get worse. Gao Jun, the Deputy General of the China Film Group originally claimed that if Beginning of the Great Revival didn't pull in 800 millions RMB, Transformers 3 would not be distributed at all.

Read the original story in Chinese

photo - DoktorSpinn

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

Why The 'Perfect Storm' Of Iran's Protests May Be Unstoppable

The latest round of anti-regime protests in Iran is different than other in the 40 years of the Islamic Republic: for its universality and boldness, the level of public fury and grief, and the role of women and social media. The target is not some policy or the economy, but the regime itself.

A woman holds a lock of her hair during a London rally to protest the murder of Mahsa Amini in London

Roshanak Astaraki

-Analysis-

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran on Sept. 16, after a possible beating at a police station, has sparked outrage and mass protests in Iran and abroad. There have been demonstrations and a violent attempt to suppress them in more than 100 districts in every province of Iran.

These protests may look like others since 2017, and back even to 1999 — yet we may be facing an unprecedented turning point in Iranians' opposition to the Islamic Republic. Indeed newly installed conservative President Ibrahim Raisi could not have expected such momentum when he set off for a quick trip to New York and back for a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

For one of the mistakes of a regime that takes pride in dismissing the national traditions of Iran is to have overlooked the power of grief among our people.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ