Before President Hu Jintao left for the United States on a state visit, the Information Office of the State Council released audio-visual advertisements to be displayed in various spots in the US, the most notable of which was Times Square in New York.
Considering that some Westerners still have stereotype ideas about China, it was not a bad idea to promote China's image through the electronic media. But the advertisements do not seem to have had the desired effect on the majority of Americans.
People are always interested in individuals rather than great events such as the Olympic Games and the World Expo, and the advertisements indeed showcase an array of talented Chinese individuals. But many Americans know little about them, which undermines the effect of the video advertisements.
One of the American citizens interviewed by a Chinese reporter said that among the individuals appearing in the video advertisements, he could only recognize Yao Ming.
The same, to a lesser extent, would apply to Chinese people if they were shown a video advertisement peppered with talented Americans. For example, many Chinese people know American basketball player Kobe Bryant well, but few know economist Michael Porter.
Perhaps the authorities should have sought Chinese people's opinion on the advertisements before releasing it for display in foreign countries. It's strange that the video advertisements can be seen only outside China.
Han Li, via e-mail
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