China – Under The Hood: Condom Branding and Fuzzy Logic in China

Was in the local “xiao mai bu” (or local quintessential neighbourhood grocery store… like the ones throughout Ireland that have been driven out of business by the mega-stores …anyway I digress)… so I was in the local grocery buying my usual milk, water, soap and ice lollies (everything else was the big “mei you” (as in “don’t have, now feck off and leave me to me own devices”…. Actually, most shopkeepers are not that unfriendly…. it’s the heat, and it is very very hot) when I notice a box with packaging art showing a loving foreign couple.

Sure isn’t that an odd couple, your one and what’s ‘er name from Four Weddings and a Funeral?”

I asked no one in particular.

Certainly the shopkeeper didn’t take a blind bit of notice, or at least pretended not to..

Yeah that’s Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell entangled on the front“. .

But what really caught my eye was the word DAMAGE emblazoned as a brand of………………CONDOMS!

China - Under The Hood: The evolution of condom branding in China - 'Damage' Starring Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell

Who, I ask, in their right mind would buy a box of DAMAGE branded condoms? Ok, so this is China, but hold on!

Can you imagine the scene in an English-speaking country, for instance, Ireland?

Impatient, embarrassed fella (girlfriend waiting outside) to shop assistant (first day on the job):

“I need a box of DAMAGE”

Shop assistant:

Yah wha?

Yer man, by now perspiring profusely (confidently winking back at the impatient girlfriend):

Giv us a box of DAMAGEd condoms. Will yah hurry up for feck sake!

Shop assistant, sussing out the scene, having only recently viewed Bonnie and Clyde film trailer on Youtube, swiftly hits the alarm button.

But, seriously, what kind of branding gurus came up with this gem? What is the fuzzy logic thinking here? Because this packet of Hugh and Andies has me reflecting deeply on the fundamentally non-rational nature of Chinese thought processes. Yes, Chinese can hear the same words but interpret things completely differently, but come on. Did the creative team actually make a conscious effort to survey consumer preferences and subsequently report back to HQ that what members of the public really wanted to see next time they purchased a box of condoms was…

“DAMAGE”. Brilliant, that’s it! We have a winner!” (Another great moment in China-style product branding!)

… and then, after further brainstorming, decide that the best way to package the DAMAGE brand was to feature a picture of Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell in the throes of passion?  Sure, that’s like marketing a bottle of beer branded as POISON.

Mr. Branding and Product Marketing Gurus here are two definitions of “damage” I just found in the Collins Dictionary that you may have missed and hopefully will find useful when you’re undertaking your next annual sales review and wondering why your sales performance has been a little.. let’s say… limp:

 Damage (损坏):

    • Harm or injury to property or a person
    • To suffer or be susceptible to harm

Plenty of Damage done here and not just to the reputations of Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell (who I’d expect were consulted beforehand, bought into the concept, and were handsomely rewarded…Not!)…..

Oh, and what happens if the merchandise doesn’t perform its key task, as in protect against unplanned pregnancy? Well, that would be some serious “damage” …. So maybe these bi yun tao  (the direct Chinese translation of condom being “avoid pregnancy sheath” or 避孕套) aren’t meant to work in the first place!  

Ahh…  the mind boggles. Nevertheless, I still can’t figure out the ‘creative work’ behind the branding ….DAMAGE? It’s so weird.

And then there’s that “surely not / God forbid” question:

Do you think Hugh and Andie are still getting a bit on the side? If you know what I mean. Obviously you haven’t a clue what I mean.

Of course,  I am referring to “money”, or “royalties”, for such a public (performance) endorsement of the “DAMAGE” brand? After all it’s this endorsement that will soon have DAMAGE challenging Durex’s grip on the global market, right?

In truth, Fuji Condom’s product marketing team (if such a team exists outside the realm of ‘factory boss’ decision-making –influenced by ‘Er Nai’ wife #2) likely thinks all foreigners look the same, and if we don’t than we all look like Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell, especially when we’re stark naked.

Wonder if Hugh and Andie would be libel for any of the above damage?

1 Comment

Filed under Branding, Character, China, China Under The Hood, Chinese, Innovation, Marketing

One response to “China – Under The Hood: Condom Branding and Fuzzy Logic in China

  1. Vicki

    Love the blog soooooo funny🙂

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