Saturday, June 28, 2008

Artsy and elitist

We wrote earlier in the month about the goings on (or not, as they're off the shelves) at China's "what's on " mags directed at expats. The combined power of SEEC Media and the propaganda department's China Intercontinental Press were not enough to keep Time Out and That's Beijing out of the sinkhole of pre-Olympic bureaucratic paranoia which is dragging several important business sectors down the drain.

Well, there's an entertaining round-up of the latest developments in all this at Danwei, Jeremy Goldkorn's blog of "Chinese media, advertising, and urban life". It appears that CIP sold the rights to That's Beijing to China Electric Power Press for Rmb10 million (US$1.4 million). Goldkorn reminds us that the magazine's original founder, Mark Kitto, still has a trademark dispute with CIP over this (that's a long story but is often rolled out as a warning to those who think they can set up publishing businesses in China. Guess what guys? You can't). Electric power got a bit boring lads?

Then he launches a broadside against the newly-launched Expat Mag. "Because, you know", he says, "expatriates in Beijing and Shanghai are not exposed to enough advertising for luxury clothing brands, pens and watches. There is a clear and urgent demand amongst expatriate readers for breathy, bilingual advertorials about expensive expensive beauty products and accessories, and vacations in luxury spa resorts". Ha Ha.

Scroll down through the comments which are worth a read too. Someone posting anonymously as "xix" says "Expat Mag has no license whatsoever ... it's done by the World Events Agency, connected to the "Expat Shows" that were held this past year". Another accuses Danwei of being elitist.

Altogether more entertaining than we deserve on a Saturday morning...except, that is for the poor schmucks trying to run these magazines. They get a pretty bad rap here. Comment-er Hunxuer opines " they're just trash, advertising and personals for guys trying to bang a local girl for the night or a local girl trying to hook a hubby. I mean, for God's sake, how many times can one read about Shangri-La, Yangshuo or the mysteries of traditional Chinese soups without wanting to rip the writer's throat out???". Hear, hear.

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