Tim Longhurst's Blog

Hey Visa: Trashing a neighbourhood with your brand is not good marketing.

July 29th, 2008 · 10 Comments

Beijing’s “Nanluogu Xiang” Hutong (alley) is a bustling mix of stores, bars and eateries… A favourite of ex-pat’s and locals alike.

At night, the alley is illuminated by the lights from within the restaurants, street lamps and bright red Chinese lanterns.

But tonight, all of this has been washed out in a sea of tacky corporate badvertising.

Stand up and be counted, Visa. Everyone’s been talking about China’s effort to take on the air pollution, but what about Visa’s campaign to create visual pollution?

Here, in this picture, we see a man drilling a hole in a beautiful Beijing restaurant’s wall. Why is he doing this?

Oh, I see – this is why – he’s doing it for Visa! A credit card company…

And looky-here: there’s plenty where that one came from…

The alley I’m describing is narrow – it has room enough for one car to pass by and all the bikes and pedestrians have to scurry out if the way. To fill the alley with lightboxes for a credit card isn’t just tackey, it’s insulting to Chinese culture and offensive to visitors who expect to be able to enjoy Beijing’s charm without multinational’s trashing said charm for a perceived marketing benefit.

Personally, I think they’ve miscalculated. I can’t imagine getting ANY goodwill out of running roughshod over a small Chinese neighbourhood just because in ten days a bunch of rich foreigners will be showing up.

I’d love to know what Visa paid, who they paid the money to; whether the shopkeepers are getting remunerated for the loss of charm; and whether someone from Visa is going to be smart enough to literally pull the plug on this ghastly mistake.

If you’re a marketing rep from Visa and you’d like to respond, get in touch.

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Category: Corporate craziness

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