Advertising and Marketing

Multinational wordplay

A billboard campaign for a new Beijing real estate development drops famous brand names to promote a cosmopolitan image:

Google will go to the café downstairs to "read".

A respectful form of "read" (拜读, bàidú) sounds like Google's competitor, Baidu (百度, bǎidù).

The development is The International Wonderland (aka Happy Square) by Capital Development, and is located just north of the Workers' Stadium. The billboards line both sides of Dadong Lu.

The developer's website also makes use of a well-known brand:


More billboard images can be found below:

In the apartments, Nokia has no need to "moto" to watch the game.

摩托 (mótuō) is short for both "motor [cycle]" and "Motorola."

Beside the plaza, Warner can find a "universal" language.

"The whole world" (环球, huánqiú) sounds like the Chinese name of "Universal Music Group" (寰球, huánqiú).

BP can play "bridge" in the pub beneath the apartments.

The card game "bridge" (桥牌, qiáopái), sounds like the Chinese name of "Shell Oil" (壳牌, qiàopái).

There are currently 10 Comments for Multinational wordplay.

Comments on Multinational wordplay

Not very creative, really. As an advertiser, it's absolutely all right to play words, but the ads shown above look rather stupid. Can't understand its connection to the real estate.

Talking about bad adverts - there is a big sign in an office block near my house with just three chracters: 学汉语!

Think about it...

I am a student from Journalism School of People's University in Beijing. And I have been watching your web site for two months. I visited it every day since I founded it in March, and I posted comments sometimes.I really love the way you look at China. China is a country with awful history and chaiotic present situations. You posted all this on your web like a ankorman commentated on the scene, which I appreciated very much.

I am looking forward to communicating with you and consulting you on some questions. Would you be kind enough to accept my request? If so, we could communicate through e--mails. And if you are here in Beijing, we could even meet face--to--face. I am looking forward to your response.

Richard Zhang

Ivan... Cannot agree more !

I won't say these ads are great, but they are definitely linked to real estate. The advertisements are quite clever and use advanced wordplay to show the convenience of these new real estate complexes. Without a deep understanding of Chinese language and sarcasm, readers, especially non-Chinese readers, can just dismiss these ads as "not creative" or "rather stupid." "Google can go to the cafe downstairs to 'read'('baidu yi xia' = use baidu to search, in's advertising terms)" is sarcastic and humorous, because they are using the word "Google" like a person's name, juxtaposing it with "baidu" as a double entendre, as if some guy named "Mr. Google" can take advantage of this cafe's convenient internet connection.

The BP ad also indicates the convenience of pubs to the location, once again using double entendre for comic effect (using "qiao pai" = "bridge" [the card game] and BP's competitor Shell Oil, also called "qiao pai").

The Nokia ad is saying that this piece of real estate is within walking distance to Workers Stadium, which one the cool areas of Beijing, a convenient location for sports fans - saying, basically, "you don't have to ride a motorcycle ("Motuo" = "motorcycle" as well as "MOTO", the marketing campaign of Motorola) to get to the sporting match".

The Warner one says there is a reputable bilingual or International school in the neighbourhood for your children's education. The use of "Warner" and "Universal" - two giants in the global media industry, and the use of the double entendre "Universal" ("huan qiu" - "universal" the company, and "global" or "worldwide" in the sense of the school's internationally-focused education) indicates that "Warner" can find this great international school next door to this particular piece of real estate.

The above-mentioned factors are important to denote these as high-class real estate products. People who don't understand these billboards, or consider them shallow or dumb definitely have a very limited knowledge of the Chinese language and culture, and said people, such as Ivan, should not make stupid commments without a fuller understanding of Chinese-language sarcasm or wordplay.

I apologize for being so wordy, but I think readers should fully understand what the advertisers are trying to say, and get a sense of the humor involved, before dismissing Chinese advertisements out of hand.

I have to say U are just amazing!" im chinese"! U have what it takes to be dub urself "im chinese". I mean, first time I scanned those sentences on the wall, i just thought the same way as Ivan, "it's just some stupid sentences without any specific relation to each other" But after I saw the comments u made, it's just like all of a sudden, it dawns on me. And in my opinion, anyone didn't take as much time as u to analyze these sentences and words and didn't konw the motivation of the advertisers would not understand it at all. Besides i have to say it is really hard to get!

Google is far away, but your Buffalo is quite near.

haha, you Danwei guys are really becoming very "beijing", like to bullshit around, "liao xian pian(er)". hehe, good for you guys!

peace out!

I'm Chinese. But even I was puzzled when I saw those ads first time. I agreed with Leo. Only after seeing the comments posted by "im chinese" did I realize the relation between these ads and the real estate. In my view, good ads should let readers get the message advertisers intend to convey at their first sight. Not so many people have time to try very hard to get the meaning of those ads posted above.

simon, it didnt take me much efforts and time to figure out these ads. maybe at second glance? btw, i didnt say these ads were awsome.

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