Being the geeky girl that I am, I enjoy watching science shows. An added bonus to modern television is that one can fast-forward though the commercials, which is usually my habit. I don't know why I didn't this time. Maybe it was so I could have this topic to write about.
So: here I am, all tucked into my geek-show, and the first round of commercials comes on. L'Oreal, Reeses' Peanut Butter cups, M&M candies, Cadillac, and KFC.
Wait a minute: where am I?
I felt like I was watching TV in the states, for all the American products advertised. The thought niggled...
Back to the science, and then another round of commercials. This time a young woman slumbered in an Ikea bed, a lovelorn lady ate at Pizza Hut, a few youths danced around with Pepsi, and a Big Mac – sandwich from McDonalds' slammed down on the table.
I'm getting a little closer to the observation I want to express, but the thought hadn't quite crystallized. Mind you: I'm enthralled by science but can't put a thought together. Strange!
The next round of commercials cemented my idea. This time I was treated to an ad for Turkish Airlines – featuring 2 non-Chinese, again KFC, L'Oreal for Men, and a spot for children's milk formula by Weyth.
Wait a minute!
China has airlines, and restaurants, and fast food, and cosmetics for men and women. They have native brand automobiles and furniture and drinks, from sodas to infant milk. The Chinese have plenty of sweet treats and snacks, too. Why are only foreign products or companies advertised?
Part of me fears the growing westernization of China, and these ad displays certainly support that theory. Another part is about fed up with how today's Chinese are gaga for anything western.
While shopping the other day I looked for a good buy on olive oil, my favorite. The sales clerk emphasized one particular brand from Spain. To listen to her, only Spain can produce quality olive oil. At 43 Yuan more than the brand I buy imported from Italy, I decided she could keep the Spanish oil. What got me was her insistence of where the oil came from rather than the virtues of the product. Why should I care where it comes from as long as it is good oil?
And now, these commercials for western products. Why not advertise Chinese products?
Could it be that ad space is so expensive only foreign companies are willing to pay the price? What does that say about the cost of advertising and Chinese companies reluctant to pony up? Or is it just a matter of pitching products to a specific group?
I've done absolutely no studies in broadcasting so I'm only guessing at this. Please bear with me. Ads are targeted to a certain demographic. During children's shows, ads for candy and toys are played, presumably to make tykes beg for whatever is dancing on TV. Young adult show sponsorship tends toward the more youthful products, clothes and services. What demographic do programmers suppose watch BBC science documentaries? Highly educated, middle aged people. Does that suggest such people should be enticed to McDonalds', Pizza Hut and Ikea?
Or do these spots imply that this demographic should lead the westernization of China?