GLOBAL BRIEF: Deng’s death hits advertising ends ads in China - The death of China’s elder statesman initiated an ad blackout. By Richard Cook investigates

When you die - and you will, you know - whatever triumphs you may have savoured or sloughs of despond you may have overcome, you can depend on one thing: your death is unlikely to cause a nationwide blackout of sanpro ads.

When you die - and you will, you know - whatever triumphs you may

have savoured or sloughs of despond you may have overcome, you can

depend on one thing: your death is unlikely to cause a nationwide

blackout of sanpro ads.



But then you are not Deng Xiaoping. Since the death of China’s elder

statesman was announced on 20 February, the Chinese ad business, which

ironically the arch moderniser helped to get started, has ground to a

standstill.



Almost all TV commercials have vanished from the screens, particularly

those for product areas deemed most unsuitable. This is a bigger list

than might be supposed. It includes alcoholic and soft drinks, washing

detergents, cosmetics and sanpro. Only a handful of ads in a suitably

restrained style have been allowed in between extended news bulletins

and lavish tributes to the former leader.



Nor has this process been restricted to television - newspapers have cut

down on their ad sites to accommodate more articles in memory of Deng,

and the cinema has stopped screening foreign films.



’I think what something like this brings home is just how sensitive to

the depth of these cultural issues advertisers have to be,’ Paul

Woolmington, the Ammirati Puris Lintas worldwide media director,

explains. ’Because in China there are no regulatory bodies for

advertisers, there is just the Government. This market is growing fast

and will continue to grow fast, but advertisers have to be aware of all

the differences.’



The situation in China is starting to ease following the memorial held

for Deng in Beijing on 25 February, but it will be weeks before the ad

business returns to anything like normal - especially on the centrally

administered China Central Television.



Copywriters should avoid writing an ad with anything that could be

construed as an upbeat ending.



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