Chinese property firms’ naked grab for publicity has bared for all in the mainland an indecorous and unsurprisingly effective marketing peccadillo: the use of nude young women to sell splashy hot condos.
As China’s real estate market takes a turn southward, developers searching for new promotional sales strategies and sales tools may have gone a li too far. In the latest instance of advertising malfeasance run amok in China, the authorities in the Guangxi provincial capital of Nanning shuttered a property firm’s offices after it tried to use bare-backed models to promote its newly-built apartments.
The models, wearing wispy bottom wraps and glitzy cat masks, displayed the ads on the square footage of their bronzed backs. Included in the 2-D dioramas were the layout of the apartments with the design particulars of the space: the two spacious bedrooms, the fully functional kitchen, the modern bathroom with rain shower and, presumably, flush toilet. In other words, everything a buyer needs in a new home, just without so many clothes.
Bare-Naked Marketing Becomes a Mainland Trend
The campaign was apparently shut down only after complaints by the Nanning Women’s Federation, according to the Chinese website The Paper. However, the marketing department of the property agency was so successful in spreading word of the campaign that “the whole of Nanning” knew about it, according to the company’s sales staff.
The Nanning gambit followed a similar tack taken by a real estate company in Huizhou, in Guangdong province, just days before. There, the local branch of top-three developer Country Garden had attempted the same “Naked Back Marketing” maneuver before being shut down by clued-in authorities.
Despite the official pushback that the Huizhou and Nanning property innovators faced from their risque approach to unloading their apartments in an increasingly tight market, it was not the first time a mainland firm has used temptations of the flesh to peddle their wares. Earlier last month, a shopping mall on tropical Hainan Island had decided to dispense with clothing altogether for female staffers, offering them a chance to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the mall with a “naked run,” according to an account in The South China Morning Post.
Running The Money Gantlet
Apparently the Hainan mall, flush with success from having hit the ultra-lucky milestone in China of compiling 880,000 WeChat views (the number 8 having achieved legendary status in Chinese culture for its propitiousness) only wanted 10 brave young naked women to step forward and run through the mall for just 10 minutes, after which they would receive RMB 10,000 (about $1,500) for their efforts.
The offer, made via blaring red banners displayed strategically throughout the mall, was widely shared through Chinese social media, leading to widespread condemnation. One Weibo user commented: “I want to see your boss run naked,” the SCMP report said.
The mall was subsequently fined RMB 900 ($130) after local authorities, including the Haikou Women’s Organisation, confronted the mall operators, who apparently expressed some regret.
As China’s property boom dissipates, with major developers in some instances slashing prices as much as 30 percent for homes as they seek willing buyers, such marketing stunts may become the norm. Instead of price discounts, look for developers to peddle “added attractions” to pump sales.
But as Nicole Wong, the head of property research at CLSA, puts it, China’s property sector still “often offers the best risk-reward when news is gloomy” — apparently obviating the need to lift the gloom through naked grabs for attention.