If you are ever planning on starting a business in China, I’d strongly suggest learning about the Chinese culture first. Some of the gimmicks that are well-received here would never EVER go over well in America.
In Act III, as I already described, we have fun little interactive games supplied by our corporate sponsors. GE has its “healthymagination” game- a skeleton appears on the screen and follows your movements as you move your arms and legs, squat, and bend your torso side to side. Another area has interactive screens that move when you wave your hand in front of them. Visitors like these areas but none of them compare to Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson came up with the idea of “Stevies.” These tiny, 1 inch in length, blue rabbit-type things are cell-phone charms. They have a loop of string attached so you can hook it to your phone. Maybe in America you could find these in Claire’s for your pre-teen cousin’s birthday, but here, EVERYBODY has them. Grown men, old ladies, teenage boys- they all love cell phone charms. So when they find out that Johnson & Johnson will give you one if you text “CARE” to their corporate number, they all immediately whip out their phones. If their phones are dead or they don’t have texting, they are devastated. Mothers will beg for more Stevies and men will forcefully try to take them from you…they are phone charms, for goodness sake! If we tried to give these out in America, people would laugh and politely refuse them. Not in China though. Phone charms are a big deal here.
Yesterday, the USA Pavilion decided to switch it up a little. We gave out merchandise from some of our sponsors who wanted to raise awareness for their products. So what did we give out?
Oranges, Cheese Sticks, Prunes, and Pats of Butter. Yes, we handed out PATS of BUTTER to people exiting our pavilion. And what did people do when we handed them their pat of butter? Some of them opened it on the spot and ate it! Because most Chinese people don’t use butter. They don’t know what butter is. So why are we giving them butter?! Of course they are going to think it is a treat. Some licked it slowly and some popped the whole thing in their mouth at once. Mmm, delicious? 50/50 response – some pats got spat out.
And PRUNES?! The visitors spit the seeds out all over our floor as they ate them, so we had to stop giving them out. Yes, right there in Act III, prune pits scattered all over our floor. Sigh.
An American was visiting the pavilion during the “butter hand-out.” He looked very puzzled when he came up to me and asked, “I’m sorry, are you handing out…butter….as a present?” Yep, yep we are, and if you stick around, maybe you can get some prunes as well!
Handing out those delicious pats of butter was crazy. People would mob me and my box and try to grab as many as they could. Gotta get your butter fix, I suppose!