Advertising lessons from Chinese street vendors

One of the advantages of being a translator is that you get to learn from two (or more) cultures. In China, street vendors often struggle to survive, trying to earn a couple of dollars each day while evading the omnipresent chengguan or “urban management officers” who do not hesitate to beat up unregistered sellers. Desperate to improve their lives, these street vendors often have the most brilliant advertising ideas. It proves that creativity derives out of necessity, not leisure.

Warning: The content below contains information that may upset some readers.


#1: “High-speed Internet: Please fasten your seatbelts.”


#2: “My fruit are sweeter than your first love.”


#3: “I’ve just been divorced… So depressed and wanting to forget about the past… I’m in tears here, trying to get rid of these imported shoes…”


#4: “Buy my vegies. Forget him.”


#5: “Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a total loser who came in here to buy a lottery ticket. By the time he left, he’d become tall, rich and handsome. Believe it or not, it’s up to you. I do.”


#6: “What do you do if your child drags behinds his peers in school? How do you inspire your child to study hard? There’re so many textbooks and study guides out there — which ones are the most reliable? There’re also good and bad teachers out there — what impact will they have on your child? How do you as a parent choose the best cramming school or after-school care for your child?… To ease your worries from the very start, try Dr Zhou’s painless abortion.”


#7: “Buy good underwear to get your husband home early.”


#8: “Faulty fruit: Too sweet.”

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