Chinese products often struggle against global behemoths in luxury markets. In order to compete, domestic skincare brand Maysu has enlisted some serious Chinese celebrity power to sell its ginseng seed spray in a new TVC. The ad stars Taiwanese actress Shu Qi, who has endorsed the brand since 2009, and is directed by Wong Kar-wai, the filmmaker behind In the Mood for Love, 2046 and kung fu flick The Grandmaster, which was recently re-released in 3D.
The commercial begins with a title announcing that it’s a “王家卫作品”, a Wong Kar-wai production. This text is essential because the ad is profoundly conventional, leaving Wong’s influence almost totally invisible.
The Maysu ad stays true to the brand’s name, Chinese for ‘pale beauty’, with Shu Qi wearing a white gown adorned with white feathers moving through sets of white clouds and white sakura. White CGI flowers open and a white peacock fans its tail and offers Shu a ginseng seed. There is a somewhat lyrical quality to the cinematography, with ample movement, bright white light, and soft focus, but the choice of bland pop rock guitar and obvious locations — Shanghai’s Bund, the Lujiazui skyline, and a glimpse of the 1933 abattoir — make the ad instantly forgettable.
Perhaps Wong’s talents were simply constrained by the process: unimaginative creative and a shooting time far shorter than his infamously long feature films. (2046 took five years to shoot, working on and off). Perhaps he didn’t really take the initiative needed to elevate the material. Either way, there seems little point in engaging such a big name director if his talent is not apparent in the final work.
Wong has struggled to stamp his mark on commercials in the past, as he did in a 2007 spot for Christian Dior’s Midnight Poison, starring Eva Green, which gets by on the anthemic soundtrack “Space Dementia” by English rock band Muse.
The Maysu ad’s underutilization of Wong’s skill is especially disappointing thinking back to his incredible use of white in The Grandmaster. During the first train station battle, fought in a flurry of snow with clouds of steam issuing from an engine resting alongside, blades draw long strings of cotton from the fighters’ stuffed winter coats. It’s imagery that’s utterly beautiful, and uniquely Chinese — just what Maysu wants.
Client: Jala Cosmetics Group
Product: Maysu Ginseng Seed Spray
Agency: Air Paris
Director: Wong Kar-wai
Talent: Shu Qi
Creative director: Tho Van Tran
Art director: Fifi Tsang
Copywriter: Rainbow Ying
Strategy and planning Nora: Ladghem
Account manager: Helen Zhu
其实王家卫对 “白色”主调的把握已经达至大师级。看一下他的最新作品《一代宗师》里对“白色”的运用 – 特别车站打斗中的那幕：同样有大量的慢镜，白色雪蒸与空中飞扬的白雪的画面美得让人窒息，功夫的动作设计流畅而精彩，完全体现了中国武侠片的独特之处。而“美素”的“白色”是美丽的，但却绝不是大师级的。