With mobile phone usage soaring in China, instant messaging app developers are in constant competition over the Greater Chinese markets. With 396 million monthly active users worldwide, China Tencent’s “WeChat” (微信) is the favorite messaging service of mainland smartphone users. WeChat’s competitor, JapanNHN’s “Line,” has a strong hold over Taiwan, though, with 17 million users as of last year representing a national penetration rate of over 70%. Taking advantage of recent Line outages on the mainland, WeChat is making a play for the Taiwan market with a provocative new commercial.
The 30-second ad opens with a college-aged boy giggling childishly while gazing at a topless pin-up (pixelated, MTV-style) on his phone. As he taps to forward the picture to his friends, the nude model appears in his room and scampers to her destination as the message sends. The boy quickly realizes, horrified, that he has sent the picture to the wrong person, at which point he imagines a farmer-grand mother receiving the picture, inexplicably staring at her own chest, and scolding him mercilessly with slaps across the face.
With the topless model next to her on the farm, the grandmother’s phone rings, but before she can open the message, the sexy co-ed disappears into plume of white smoke.The tagline then touts WeChat’s recall feature (“Sent by mistake? Recall it — No problem!”). Relieved, the boy cools off while the topless model poses in front of his bunk beds.
Running frequently on daytime television, the ad’s GoDaddy-style shock value is already prompting double takes across Taiwan. Will recallable messages be enough to convince Taiwanese users to switch from Line to the mainland’s preferred service? Surely Taiwanese teens can figure out some other uses (Three Good Reasons Not To Send Nude Photos via Snapchat) for this feature…
Ryan Kline is a senior psychology major and Mandarin language student at Yale University. He hopes to translate his interests in East Asia and psychology into a career in global advertising. He can be contacted at: