A Little Something from China: Vulgar Marketing Drivel

Leaving behind the stunning beauty of northern Yunnan Province, I sat back in my China Eastern Airlines seat and pulled out the in-flight magazine. Ad for a luxury product. Flip. Article about luxury products. Flip. Ad for a luxury product. Flip. Article about luxury products. What a bunch of tosh.

A few rows back, a large all-male group of jolly, rustic Chinese tourists were shouting across the plane to one another and ignoring the steward’s pleas for them to sit down and buckle up. I’d observed them in the airport and had already dubbed them, “The Good Time Boys,” for their volume and joviality. While waiting to board the flight they drank tea, spit in the waste bin (one man was particularly productive), ate instant noodles, and bet on card games while sitting on their haunches in a circle.

Those old guys were happy. They were enjoying the hell out of their holiday. They made me smile.

Looking back at the magazine, I halted abruptly at this grotesque bit of luxury marketing drivel:

Article from China Eastern in-flight magazine _ expatlingo.com

“A Car Makes You Different” from the China Eastern in-flight magazine

Detail from China Eastern in-flight magazine _ expatlingo.com

Detail from “A Car Makes you Different”

The text reads:

If you feel that your appearance and clothing cannot make you stand out from the crowd, but you still have the heart that pursues fashion, the best way is to resort to your car. Polished with high technology, all of the following models are spangled with unique features. There is no doubt that they are the “elites” to create 200% rate of second glance.

Reaching for the air sick bag, I turned the page and saw this vehicle:

Wow, wouldn't you look like a (complete asshole) big-shot driving this thing around the streets of Shanghai?!

Wow, you too can look like a (complete asshole) big-shot driving this thing around the streets of Shanghai

This truck-car-thing costs US $850,000. It has six wheels. They call it a 6×6. It is ridiculous.

Turning the page again, I found a special segment describing how to pair your luxury car with a luxury handbag. The text informed me that this difficult problem could be solved by simply buying a US $2.3 million Hermès Bugatti Veyron, which comes with an exclusive Hermès handbag.

Now feeling completely woozy at the vulgarity of it all. I glanced back at “The Good Time Boys” to assure myself that I hadn’t stepped into an alternative universe of vapid conspicuous consumption.

Ah, there they were. Still talking loudly. Still spitting. Still wearing matching tour hats. Still ignoring the fasten seatbelt light. And not a Louis Vuitton handbag amongst them.


32 responses to “A Little Something from China: Vulgar Marketing Drivel

    • My first car was a heavily used, yellow VW Beetle. A lemon yellow Hermes Birkin bag would have suited it perfectly. If only I’d been educated earlier!

  1. I don’t think they realise the word ‘elites’ isn’t what they think it means … but ‘spangled with unique features’ is a good one, really. Now I’m just waiting for ‘spunked up/down with mass-produced effects that detract from your elite persona.’

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! All this time I’ve been asking myself what I could do to set myself apart from the crowd, turns out all I need is a really hideous car! Fantastic. I think you made the best use of this oh so interesting magazine.

  3. Maybe a dumb question, but the 6-wheeled truck is really a Mercedes or a chinese knock-off?
    Love the part where it comes to say something like “if there is not enough with your clothes, you can be obnoxious with your car..!” 😀

    • Oh I can assure you that it is real. I verified it’s existence and price on-line. (Not to say that Chery hasn’t also created a knock off.) The whole magazine was a primer in how to be a complete twat.

  4. Clearly, the marketers responsible for the ad deserve new cars (call Oprah!) since that line about spangling is the best thing I’ve read all week. I want to meet a Chinese person with a fancy, spangled car who proudly tells me about the spangles…so I can punch him in the face. Can I get a tour where that happens? I’ll wear the hat and spit if I have to.

    • I am marketing such a tour for 2015. It’s called “Meet the Wankers of the Middle Kingdom” with optional side trip: “The Dickheads of Dallas and Dubai.”

    • Seems foolish indeed! Why buy a 2.3 million dollar car, when you could instead use the money to buy 1,200 Rolex Submariner watches and 1,200 Hermes Birkin bags?

  5. …on the flip side, have you heard about the buses that can carry 1000 commuters? Beijing is planning to build those, and based on the way the sheep progress through the metro system, I’ll bet they’ll all board and alight through one door. 随波逊流

  6. Wowee. Up until now, I was unaware of how much chinese open road was available for luxury cars to “stretch their legs” so to speak.
    How about that purse, though. A free car with your purse? Totally. I mean, who doesn’t pay 2.5 mil for their purses these days.

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  8. This, perhaps, is my favorite post of yours. I read it before but just reread it now and I love those Good Time Boys and want to be friends with them, language issues non-withstanding. Your description is spot-on. A personal fav line from this post is the “Reaching for the air sick bag…” An understated masterpiece of a sentence fragment! You make me laugh!

  9. I’d like to take a 2 by 4 to that 6 x 6.

    I was talking to someone the other day about current Chinese “culture”, and how much of the Cultural Revolution has made what China is today and how much of the need for luxury goods is the result of any third world country becoming more industrialized. Whatever we (from the west) might romanticize about China and its long history and culture, I find an absence of it in southern China. Instead, money has replaced a lot of the traditional values there and the trappings of wealth has become its own “culture”. I think all countries go through this “phase” of becoming prosperous and the need to acquire things – the more expensive the better. But I hope China will eventually grow *out* of it. What do you think?

    • Luxury goods sales are sharply down in Hong Kong, so one can only hope that Mainland consumers are starting to “see the light.” Truly flashy, luxury shopping is a complete waste of resources.

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