Vol. 25: Shanghai Subway Poster

A subway network has only recently been partially opened in Shanghai. Entering the stations one is struck by the sophistication, unusual for China, of the posters. Humor is sometimes used, as for instance in a poster featuring a monkey, a donkey and a cat in distinctive poses. I wanted to know exactly what the text meant and showed a friend who, for some reason or other, happened to know a large number of Chinese women living briefly in Japan some photographs and asked her for a translation. She said jokingly that this was going to cost me a good deal and agreed to assist. I was surprised at her reply when she telephoned me the following morning. She said that she had shown the photographs to three Chinese women and they had each come up with a different interpretation.

The matter was solved when I got in touch with an intelligent Chinese person who worked in the same company as a friend of mine. He said that the poster was an advertisement for the subway system prepared for a sponsor by an advertising agency.

From right to left, the captions read gAdvertising on the subway draws everyonefs attention,h gIf you want to advertise your product, advertising on the subway is your most effective solution,h and gAdvertising on the subway brings you extensive profits even when youfre only sitting around.h

The advertising industry is still in its infancy in China, and it seems that ordinary people still have difficulty understanding what itfs all about.

1998 Copyright (c) All Japan Neon-Sign Association