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

First impressions of Beijing – Live from the highway

July 28th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Arrived in Beijing from London Heathrow this morning. Only been here a few hours but I’ve had time to post my first video journals to YouTube:

(Updated links thanks to Katie)

Stepping off the plane…

Straight into a Coca-Cola billboard…

Reporting from a taxi…

They’re all on my YouTube Channel

Have I arrived in an Olympic city? Yes I have. The massive Beijing Airport (home of the PEK airport code) is as large and as modern as any airport I’ve ever seen. Banners, billboards and signs for the Olympics are everywhere, along with countless volunteers…

Our taxi driver didn’t speak ONE WORD of English, and even the locals trying to tell him where I was going seemed flustered. I think it may be a’ cultural thing’ to yell here more than in the West, so maybe he wasn’t as angry as he seemed…

Touching down, the thick pollution in the air is the first thing you notice; stepping off plane its the heat.

The first piece of communication I saw didn’t read “Welcome to Beijing”, it was a Coca-Cola billboard. Acually, the first two signs that greeted me when I stepped off the plain were Coca-Cola billboards. A nice touch for those who know of my previous involvement with the Zero Coke Movement.

Well, I’m off to explore the city. I’ll have my camera with me and my aim is to document my experience of Beijing for my clients, collegues, family and friends back home (that’s in alphabetical order). New friends also welcome!

Zai Jien for now!

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Category: Uncategorized