Advertising and Marketing

Billboard for a book

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A number of these signs can be found along the third ring road outside the International Expo Center. They promote Passing By (路过) by Chen Xi (尘西).

According to a report in The Beijing News, there is a 10m x 9m billboard for the book in Xuanwumen, and a 480 sq-m billboard in Sihui. The publisher, Yunnan People's Publishing House, says that it did not purchase the ad; a friend of the author is responsible.

In the ad, the book is called a "non-mainstream novel", echoing Guo Degang's promotion of himself as a "non-famous crosstalk performer," which was a subversive dig at the quality of "famous crosstalk." In literature, however, many authors already identify with the "non-mainstream," so by adopting this label Passing By may just be jumping on the alternative bandwagon.

What's so non-mainstream about it? According to press reports, the novel tells a decade-long love story through twenty-some love patterns and incorporates modern poetry, rock and roll, performance art, and other counter-culture material. The book doesn't appear to be available for purchase yet.

As for whether the ad will be successful, even the author has reservations. TBN quotes Chen Xi as saying that billboards may not be the best way of promoting a book, but "if it is done, it will definitely have some effect." A book distributor takes an even dimmer view: "The effect of a billboard for a book will be miniscule, since books are a product where content is king and quality is paramount. This kind of billboard advertising is better suited to real estate or electronics. As an ad for a book it is more of vicious sensationalism."

Real estate and electronics, but also music and film - roadside signs in Beijing often promote the latest concerts, movies, and CD releases, and even important recording contracts. This actually isn't even the first time that a private individual has purchased a billboard for an artist - in October, fans of Zhang Liangying took out a mammoth billboard along Beijing's airport expressway wishing the Super Girl a happy birthday and congratulating her on the release of her new album.

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