Ads: 100 Moves of a Real Man

The 100 Moves of a Real Man

“Move 83: Stand in the space between subway cars, facing the direction the train is moving. Tilt your head at a 15Ëš angle, allowing the wind to caress your face and blow across your hair—like a hero astride a mountain peak.”

I was standing like a chump just outside the space between the subway cars when I saw the poster. Big yellow characters on black background pasted up on the door opposite me, telling me I was standing like some kind of lesser being, a shadow of what I could be. It was on Line 1 of the Shanghai Metro, deep beneath the city, where I learned how to really stand on the subway.

I’ve seen good Chinese ads before, and I’ve even seen good Chinese ads on the Mainland before. But never aimed at someone my age. Never humorous. Never good enough that they’d be good in any market in the world while retaining a clear focus on the Mainland Chinese male, 12-28 years of age.

What I like so much about this series of ads is that they represent a subtle shift in the media landscape. I know McDonald’s started targeting young, tier-1 city men a while back, especially by playing to a Dongbei sense of masculinity with heavy use of 纯爷们儿—a phrase which I have translated here as “real man” (it can also be translated as “pure man”), and connotes a kind of harsh Chinese maleness I associate with the actor Jiang Wen (star of Let the Bullets Fly, among other films).

Yet here we have a new focus. Now, the intended audience seems to be someone who is, or aspires to be, like this: a dark-suited, ex-PLA businessman from the Northeast, a svelte, post-85 or even post-90 Shanghai club-goer. Too young for Zhou Runfa, and too subtle and ironic for Zhou Libo. It is a successfully manufactured, new kind of cool, a singular, unique feel that can be differentiated from that of the old Hong Kong action stars and the more-contemporary clean-cut businessmen of Buick ads.

Rogers note: to see another side of McDonalds advertising, watch the short film Sunshine, featured in this Blast. Below, learn a few more Moves of the Real Man.

“Move 80: Always listen to the call of your heart. Example: when you’re hungry, eat big pieces of meat. Don’t forget that in the genes of a real man remain the instincts of an animal.”

“Move 64: Pull your tie with one hand, with a bit of an unruly expression as you do so. It’s said that the effect on female coworkers is akin to an ‘instant kill’.”

“Move 52: The high stools found in bars are potent weapons for attracting fine young women. The trick is to only sit on the front half of the stool, bending one of your legs back and keeping the other straight. Men sitting in such a way exhibit a forceful charisma, fully revealing the straight lines of their muscles.”

“Move 49: When you’re leaving the changing room of a gym, pour a bottle of water over your head. Let nearby females note the masculine, disheveled charm of ‘sweat’ running smoothly down your well-developed muscles.”

“Move 18: Imagine the speed with which a cowboy from the West might quick-draw his gun for the final shootout: refer to this as you practice drawing your wallet. The next time your girlfriend (attempts to) buy something, her heart will be thoroughly melted.”

“Move 28: Get a crew cut at least once.  Although it may be ugly, you can tell people that real men all have an ‘edge’ to them.”

“Move 12: When you’re thinking, stroke your beard even if you don’t have one.  You won’t necessarily be able to think of anything, but everyone will definitely think you did.”

See more from Blast No. 2

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6 Responses to Ads: 100 Moves of a Real Man

  1. Don Jackson
    April 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    HA! Awesome. What a ridiculous ad campaign- and I don’t mean ridiculous like “holy shit those chinese are so fucking ridiculous look at this weird ad” – i mean, it is funny, and interesting. Ridiculous.

    I think 64 is my move- the one handed tie pull. I can handle that shit. Instant kill, baby, instant kill.

  2. Marcel
    April 6, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    move # 65: When listening to a woman, compose yourself as though you were an ancient King hearing grievances from a peasant. This way, she will know that you are concerned for her well being, but have many things on your mind of great importance.

    • Sascha
      April 6, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      marcel is obviously a Huge Pimp.


  1. Film: Sunshine | Roger Presents: - March 31, 2012

    […] timed; when this video dropped Matt Michaelson was simultaneously banging out the translations of a McDonalds ad campaign unlike any he’d before seen in this country. Two very different approaches to selling fast […]

  2. ROGER SAYS: THIS IS BLAST NO. 2 | Roger Presents: - March 31, 2012

    […] relating to McD’s when they were sent to me: one, Matt Michaelson‘s translation and discussion of a print campaign targeted towards young, Chinese males; the other, a documentary about an American ad executive […]

  3. Hao Hao Report - March 31, 2012

    Someone thinks this story is fantastic…

    This story was submitted to Hao Hao Report – a collection of China’s best stories and blog posts. If you like this story, be sure to go vote for it….

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