In what is being called the “toughest advertising law to be passed in China”, new restrictions on acceptable language, and celebrity endorsements, are expected to transform the industry.
One of the more significant provisions forbids all advertising from using a number of words, many of which appear quite innocuous. The list includes:
- “most” or “best”, which includes “most popular”, “most advanced” and “most luxurious”;
- “first” or “one”, including “No. 1” and “country’s top”;
- “national” or “capital”, including “international standards”, “national level”
- “authority”, including “recommended by Chinese leaders” and “recommended by Chinese institutions”.
Other regulations focus on online advertisement, such as those nagging pop-up ads that won’t close.
Most interesting however are new provisions governing the use of celebrity endorsements in advertising. For instance, child stars under the age of ten are now forbidden from endorsing any commercial products in order to protect their “physical and psychological health” on the basis that they lack “independent judgement”. Mega-hit reality show Daddy, Where Are We Going? had recently popularized this trend by having several of its child stars appear in advertisements.
Celebrities are also banned from endorsing health care products, a trend popularized by Hongmao Medicinal Wine who used celebrities like Chen Baoguo to serve as its spokesperson.
The final provision relating to celebrities is seemingly quite straightforward: in order to endorse a product, the celebrity must have actually used the product. Simple enough one might say, however what if your celebrity is a male actor or singer, and the product he’s endorsing is maxi pads?
Just such a situation occurred when Taiwanese star, Jiro Wang, appeared in a television commercial for Freemore Maxi Pads. In the commercial, Wang compares women to robots that aren’t “free” during their period and are seen slowing down. After drawing a white line that turns into a Freemore maxi pad, Wang is seen dancing with women who all turn into cheerful cartoon figures, just like the one seen on the Freemore package.
Here’s the Freemore commercial: you should probably enjoy it now, as its the last of its kind in China to feature a male celebrity endorsing feminine hygiene products: