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Guangming Daily News, China

Spring Festival Gala Ads Should
Learn from the Super Bowl

By Liu Jingyao

Translated By Mollie Gossage

7 February 2013

Edited by Lydia Dallett

China - Guangming Daily News - Original Article (Chinese)

The morning of February 4 was America’s yearly event known as the “American Spring Festival Gala” — the “Super Bowl” football match. One bright point in this competition is the interstitial advertisements. The Super Bowl’s ratings reach 40 to 60 percent; 80 or 90 million Americans will watch this event. According to Wikipedia, for the 2013 Super Bowl, the price for one 30-second commercial was about $4 million. These advertisements’ quality and creativity are therefore all top-level, to the extent that some people only watch the Super Bowl in order to see the commercials.

American audiences are undoubtedly blessed. During the Super Bowl, which is comparable in nature to the Spring Festival Gala [a Chinese New Year TV special that features performances and attracts an audience of some 700 million viewers], interstitial advertisements are totally absorbing, making it much more difficult to find time for “pee breaks.” They are emotionally stirring and inspired works — each one of these creative ads not only alleviates the tension of the sports match and is welcomed by viewers with a knowing smile, but even more so leaves countless viewers with food for thought.
Let’s compare for a moment. When our domestic audience watches advertisements, it’s a much less felicitous matter. It's either the familiar faces of celebrities dangling before the camera, reading slogans in a stiff, artificial manner, or it’s a bombardment of brainwashing — the same slogan repeated again and again in attempts to make the audience, like a repeating machine, remember their brand. Watching domestic ads has practically become a mentally destructive activity. Take for example the domestic Wahaha fruit milk commercial: the ad consists of a cute child immaturely begging, “Mommy, I want to drink Wahaha fruit milk.” Whereas the language of foreign ads is subtle, playful: “Sweet and sour yogurt has the flavor of first love.” Numerous domestic advertisements are just like the former; their direct and singular aim is to instill the brand name in the audience’s mind, and never exert effort to consider the audience’s perspective.

Just consider the annual Spring Festival Gala event. The quality of the advertising is really difficult to compliment. Big brand logos often emerge from the announcement bar; from time to time the host interposes scripted New Year’s wishes directly from the brand — either that or the audience members offstage are arranging all kinds of commodities on a table for exhibition...
For the same level of programming, why does the American audience get to enjoy such a colorful advertisement feast, while domestic audiences can only eat year after year from the same garbage advertisements’ “leftovers feast”? To compare simply with numbers, the four-and-a-half-hour Spring Festival Gala makes 6.5 billion RMB, while the four-and-a-half-hour Super Bowl brings in $4.2 billion. In America the price for a 30-second advertisement may reach $4 million; as for production costs, domestic advertising companies cannot even hope to compare. But there is one point where the Super Bowl is incomparable to the Spring Festival Gala, and that is the number of viewers. In 2012, for the “Dragon Year Spring Festival Gala,” viewership reached 499 million. When providing a program for nearly 500 million people, is it possible to cultivate some respect for the audience in terms of advertisement quality, to no longer pollute our vision with those shoddy commercials?

Year after year, prospective Spring Festival Gala programs all undergo countless modifications and investigations. I hope those advertisements with the strength to air during the Spring Festival Gala also receive the same treatment, or at least are polished a little, showing a little creativity and thought. Don’t always make the viewers “enjoy” a force-feeding.

*Translator's Note: This article was originally published by China Youth Daily (中国青年报).



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