Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Chu Campaign Ad: Messages within Messages

Solidarity send around this campaign ad from the Chu campaign. Go to his blog and read his remarks, insightful as usual. What struck me about the ad was not only its whiteness, but also its lack of young people, females, and non-Han people. This is an elite, exclusive, male Taiwan Chu is presenting. Another interesting thing I noticed was the lack of people. In Taiwan the metaphor for on-stage social interaction is the night market (marketing researcher Clyde Warden has some interesting work on this), just as in America it is The Neighborhood. Note the total lack of frames crowded with people in them, the total lack of re nao Taiwaneseness.

That said,  I'd like to focus on a particular frame. This one:

One thing I like to do when I watch things is study the background. I was immediately struck by this frame: in the entire ad, it's the only frame with completely legible Chinese characters. Everything else is shot with telefoto lenses to blur out fore- and backgrounds. This cries out for attention, not just because it is unique but its visual location is at the one-third line, ideal for photo composition. Someone obviously wants it noticed

The sign contains the names of two "original juices" -- juice drinks. They are the only two names on the sign, and you can imagine my surprise when I realized I didn't know what the left-hand drink was (dandelion juice, Solidarity informed me as we discussed this) even though I have been to thousands of drink shops and my wife is a cookbook translator. Dandelion juice is not exactly a common drink in Taiwan [WRONG: It is in some places]. You can next imagine my "huh" moment when I realized that the left hand drink contained the character , the middle character of 蔡英文, the name of DPP Presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen. Glancing at the right name, I noted the characters 蓮花 part of 石蓮花, a common drink in Taiwan. My spider sense was tingling because 蓮花, sounds a lot like 連華, which means "Unite China".

"O come on," I muttered. "This can't be a coincidence."

Sure enough, even without coffee this morning I realized 公 , an obvious reference to communist (bandit). Voila! United China opposes the Communist bandit (Little) Ing!

Solidarity completed it for me in a private message
蒲公英原汁: the 蒲 could be code for 撲 which means "attack", so attack the Communist bandit Tsai

石蓮花原汁: the 石 could be code for 實 as in "solid/real/actual" united China
"Attack the Communist Bandit Tsai Ing-wen, Realize a United China"

Maybe I should have had my coffee this morning.
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Anonymous said...

Communist bandit Tsai WTF?? How about CCP ass kissers Ma & Chu.

BTW Michael, did you see this video? A real work of art. Not only is the tw guy a douche, but the tw police are once again shown to be useless.

Unknown said...

Marketing professors are always looking for examples of subliminal messages, so thanks for this one Michael. Much better than BUY MORE COKE!
The video does not present the Taiwan I know. It does, however, resemble the idealized image of Singapore.