China can handle product placement

Scott Tong May 29, 2009
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China can handle product placement

Scott Tong May 29, 2009
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Bill Radke: One of the most successful TV shows in the world is Ugly Betty. It was first made in Colombia. There are other foreign versions. On ABC’s hit show, Ugly Betty works at a magazine. But in China, she works at an ad agency. And that makes for the perfect product placement vehicle. From Shanghai, Marketplace’s Scott Tong reports.


Scott Tong:: In China, Ugly Wudi is the character’s name — the TV heroine with the thick glasses and bad hair. Here’s the trailor:

[Sound of Ugly Wudi trailor]

Ugly Wudi also competes for a guy’s attention. But the show’s not really about love. It’s about Dove, as in skincare. The Dove logo is in the background of many scenes, as well as the foreground, and stitched on the actors’ clothes. Lipton tea is another sponsor; and every character drinks the stuff.

U.S. viewers might consider this product placement excessive. However:

Mary Bergstrom: I don’t actually think it’s too much for a Chinese audience.

Youth marketing consultant Mary Bergstrom:

Bergstrom: We in China haven’t been as inundated with product information. So having new brands and being educated consumers is a relatively new concept.

Or as another observer put it, it’s OK for western advertisers to be gauche in China.

Ugly Wudi premiered last fall to huge ratings. The second season just ended, and producers and sponsors are plugging away on year three.

In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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