China tries to polish image in U.S. with TV ads

The Chinese flag is seen flying in Shanghai, China.

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: China's President Hu Jintao continues his U.S. visit today with a Press Conference and an official state dinner at the White House. You'll probably see a lot of smiles, as China tries to boost its image in the U.S.

But as Marketplace's Scott Tong reports the Chinese are getting a little help from Madison Avenue, in the form of a new TV ad.


Scott Tong: The ad features Chinese NBA star Yao Ming, among others, and it comes from global ad agency Lintas. China could use some image-buffing: Remember its imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate? Its new stealth fighter?

Public diplomacy scholar Joshua Fouts says China needs a clear, concise message to the West. But that'll take more than just one ad.

Joshua Fouts: A branding blast that just has faces on it I don't think in the long-term is terribly effective. The most effective tool for country branding is really communicating with people on a one-to-one level.

So, China's opening language schools around the world, and broadcasting TV shows in several countries and languages. As for its reputation here, a new poll suggests about 50 percent of Americans view China favorably, 35 percent unfavorably.

Political scientist Dali Yang is with the University of Chicago.

Dali Yang: It's obviously not a very warm relationship. But it's a relationship that continues. And people recognize that.

In Washington, I'm Scott Tong for Marketplace.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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