Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Terrifying Taiwan WHO Poster


Want to hurt your eyes? Here is the poster someone dreamed up for Taiwan's WHO bid. Try finding the key concepts Taiwan and WHO prominently and clearly displayed. The poster contains no explanation of what Taiwan is doing -- wasting half the space on a meaningless cascade of C-s -- and does not ask the viewer to take action in response to seeing the poster, such as donating, writing to someone, or even spreading the word. The poster assumes instead that the viewer already knows what the issue is and simply reminds them that they are supposed to be on board -- but anyone who knows about this issue is already sympathetic to Taiwan.

Did I mention that it frickin' hurts to look at it (did you notice that the color blindness test has the word TAIWAN embedded in it?).

Ouch.

Is it too much to ask that clear, prominent, appealing, visually-stimulating posters be used? If we're going to be quixotic, let's at least dress like Don Quixote, not Don Rickles.



18 comments:

MJ Klein said...

Michael, you know what i do here for a living. i will state that Taiwanese people don't seem to be good at conceptualizing - they need to be shown, usually directly. i suggest that you make your own poster and show it to someone. that's the only way it will get done.

Wulingren said...

I just don't understand it. Can someone explain?

Michael Turton said...

Michael, it is very difficult to conceptualize in a foreign language. I think the problem is that the Taiwanese simply don't know what sells overseas.....

Michael

mark said...

The other day the TRO here in London gave me a very nice coffee mug with the design on it.

Biomed Tim said...

"...Taiwanese simply don't know what sells overseas..."

OMG. This is so retarded. How hard is it to hire a PR firm? There are professionals who KNOW what sells overseas.

(many international ad agencies and PR firms have branches in Taiwan)

Michael Turton said...

Yes, Tim, but the final say does not lie with the PR types who have the real expertise.....

The Taipei Kid said...

Typical GIO crap.

Wulingren said...

What I think would be an interesting approach would be to have a contest, where people from Taiwan and overseas could submit designs. Then, a team of creative people--PR types, artists, etc.--could then select the best designs. They could create a blog on which they could share their thoughts about the process. They might even set up a web of blogs with people hired to write in different languages. The blogs would link to each other and to other sympathetic blogs, and create buzz about Taiwan. This would also mean giving up a little control of the process, and also reaching out beyond the obvious and usual channels such as, for instance, the Wall Street Journal. Just some thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, maybe the government here should hire the same PR agencies that the PRC uses to control the international media. I freelance for several PR agencies here, and even the international ones do have a local bent. Along with this, I work also with associations the put together international exhibitions. Sadly, there is a great wall here in Taiwan, as well as in China. I see so many PR battles being lost internationally, because there is not trust that a person not born here could possibly understand what could be more effective. It breaks my heart, as PR battles are being lost for this simple reason. And, in my opinion, these are battles that Taiwan cannot afford to keep losing.

walter said...

Michael I found an interesting artile that may be a very GOOD reason why Taiwan can't participate in international organizations like WHO.

I personally think that as long as Taiwan sees itself as a mere "republic of CHINA" or "ROC", then anything Taiwan does will always be rejected even if they apply as "Taiwan" because Taiwan's own constitution still says that Taiwan "rules China, Mongolia, etc." I think you need to check out that "ROC" notion which in my view is frankly dead. Taiwan is simply Taiwan and is no longer a mere "ROC".


Check this out: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2007/05/08/2003360023

Jason said...

You said it, Taipei Kid. I had Pokemon-style seizures when I first saw that poster.

Sadly it seems the GIO is either too cheap or too underfunded to pay big bucks on a successful modern ad campaign. Yet at the same time they seem more than happy to lay down big bucks to print ridiculous propaganda pamphlets on the importance of budaixi puppets or large compendiums of the president's speeches.

If only the GIO would be bold enough to make some good homoerotic ads like the MAC does...

asahicho said...

I think the piece might be done by some pro-Blue bureaucrats who are more into not offending China than getting their job accomplished. And it's a widespread problem rather than one single unique case.

Ben Findlay said...

I think you're terribly wrong.
I really like the poster. I think it is clever, hard hitting and probably effective.
The poster is AIMED at people who already understand the situation - and why not? These are the people who have the influence to make a difference. Do you really believe that everyone who knows about the situation is actively sympathetic to Taiwan? Come on! Most foreigners think it's a small side issue of little relevance or importance. Certainly not worth rocking the boat about - and you of all people know how reluctant foreigners are about rock the boat on even the most egregious of Taiwan - China issues. This is a hard hitting reminder to those people (and even to the ones who know very little about the situation - please give me a more concise way of summarising the issue to someone who wouldn't under any circumstances give the poster more than 5 seconds of his/her time than "without Taiwan the WHO is incomplete. Support Taiwan's entry into the WHO."
If it made you feel uncomfortable - good! - that was the point! It was meant to jolt those moral relativists into actually thinking about the issue - into exploring how they feel about it - and hopefully then realising that it is important, it is outrageous and they should care. A darfur poster makes one feel far more uncomfortable (in a different way) and sick. The Darfur issue is also awful enough for their posters to do more than remind people that they should care - their posters can ask for action and reasonably expect the reader to act upon it. If you really believe that it is worth the space putting in requests "ask(ing) the viewer to take action in response to seeing the poster, such as donating, writing to someone, or even spreading the word." you are sorely deluded over how much almost anyone cares.
Incidentally, do you honestly think that directly telling people to "spread the word" is a more effective strategy than reminding them how morally indefensible china's (and the world's) stance is?
And, pray tell, Mr. "wasting half the space on a cascade of meaningless c's" (Do you REALLY think that they're meaningless??!! Good lord man - LOOK AT THE POSTER!) how could the message be gotten over better to a quick view audience? The design successfully draws in the eye - the first and most important rule in advertising. It is also clever. Are you going to deny that it is clever? It doesn't patronise the intelligent people it is aimed at with something "prominent (and) appealing". I also disagree that it is not "clear". And I think you disagree with your inference that it not "visually stimulating".
Maybe we could talk about it over a beer on Saturday at the Taiwan beer bar?

Michael Turton said...

Ben --

Look at this WWF Save the Turtle Poster

http://www.wwfpacific.org.fj/publications/marine/poster_turtleIcon.jpg

It explains what the problem is in concrete terms. All of the poster relates to the issue and provides information about it.
It explains what action needs to be taken.
It tells the reader what they should do in response to seeing the post.
It has a single clear and memorable image and title.
It doesn't hurt my eyes.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

Oops! The URL got lost
http://www.wwfpacific.org.fj/
publications/
marine/
poster_turtleIcon.jpg

try this

Ben Findlay said...

No Michael. No no no!

With the greatest of respect, the principal behind your argument shows a acute and disappointing lack of understanding.

Firstly, Can't you see you are comparing apples and oranges? Comparing a poster of endangered turtles to one about Taiwan not being allowed into the WHO is, at best, meaningless.

I'm sorry that the poster hurts your eyes. It doesn't hurt mine. Or any of my three flatmates'. But that is beside my point. The thought behind the poster is spot on.

A poster along the lines of that turtle one WOULD BE POINTLESS. Can't you "c" that? (sorry)

Taiwan is in a pitifully weak position. It stands no realistic chance at all of joining the WHO anytime in the foreseeable future.

The only thing Taiwan can do is remind people of how outrageous this is. There is no good reason to provide additional information. In fact, if additional information distracts from the central point (the morally indefensible situation), it weakens the poster.

Please do explain to me what possible "action" would make any difference at all. Come on!
And while you're about it, please do enlighten me on what the reader (the same reader that sees and nearly always forgets Darfur appeals) is possibly supposed to do in response? Really Michael!

I'd be interested to know what exactly you do and what possible effect you think your courageous action has.

Last and least, there is a single memorable image. And it's a darn sight better - and magnitudes cleverer - than most posters offer. I certainly rate it above the turtle. Tell me you don't.

If I don't get too drunk at a barbecue we're having on Friday night, I'll see you at Shannon's.

Ben Findlay said...

Incidentally, I thought you may be interested by The Economist's take on Frank Hsieh:
http://www.economist.com/world/asia
/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9150781

You may possibly also be interested by my take on Football in Taiwan:
http://notesfromasmallerisland.blogspot
.com/2007/05/football-in-taiwan.html

Cheers.

Ben Findlay said...

This one's really good as well.

http://economist.com/daily/
columns/asiaview/displaystory.
cfm?story_id=9140017

Suffering from insomnia.