Economist Martin Jacques said in his 2010 TED Talk, Western people will never understand China if they insist on trying to by “simply drawing on Western experience, looking at it through Western eyes, using Western concepts“. A new short film by Doug Nichol titled ‘Sunshine‘ follows American advertising producer, John Benet, as he heads to the PRC to film a new TV Commercial for McDonald’s whilst simultaneously going on a personal journey where he learns about the Chinese way of doing things.
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The film opens with a
Chinese (Singaporean) man on a phone describing an idea for what is later unveiled to be the family friendly Mcdonald’s TV ad. You can’t help but chuckle when the man explains “you know the music video by Prodigy ‘Smack My Bitch Up’…that’s kind of the idea”. This sort of somewhat sums up what John Benet experiences in his visit to China – obscurity and weirdness (at least from his perspective). ‘Sunshine’ is full of various insights into China and its ad industry that will raise an eyebrow to outsiders, from the “Sunshine People”, to the aim of promoting happiness in ads, all the way to the “dee doo” sound Chinese fire engines make.
Since its online release McDonald’s China and its ad agency TBWA have been less than impressed by the film, as it turns out permission was not given for it to be made. However, ‘Sunshine’ is a great watch and we find John Benet beginning to conclude that despite working in advertising for the last 23 years, he seems to lose all concepts of what it is good and what is bad creativity when it comes to making a Chinese TV commercial.
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