Bye bye Big Phil

Bye bye Big Phil
Nov 10, 2017 (WiC 387)

No football manager likes to go out with a loss, but Luiz Felipe Scolari was probably less vexed that his team was beaten 2-1 by Tianjin Quanjian. After all, his side Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao had already won the Chinese Super League two games earlier. That meant the southern Chinese team – backed by two of China’s richest men, Evergrande’s Xu Jiayin and Alibaba’s Jack Ma – had won the league for the seventh year in a row.

The 68 year-old Brazilian coach – known in England as ‘Big Phil’ when he managed Chelsea – paid tribute to the crowd at the Tianhe Stadium: “Thank you Guangzhou Evergrande for bringing me to China and to Guangzhou where I spent a sweet two-and-a-half years with you.” China’s top team has been tight-lipped about his successor, but much of the speculation has centred on Italian Fabio Cannavaro who coached the Tianjin team that bested Guangzhou last Saturday. On Tuesday he quit that role, leading to further media reports that he will be heading south to the provincial capital of Guangdong. Scolari’s Guangzhou topped the league, finishing six points clear of Shanghai SIPG, which is managed by the former Porto and Tottenham coach Andre Villas-Boas.

Stepping on it

Stepping on it
Nov 3, 2017 (WiC 386)

How to create a positive buzz in China’s online video sharing world has become something of a holy grail for marketeers. So a round of applause for the executive at Land Rover who had the bright idea of filming one of its iconic four-wheel drive vehicles zoom up 999 stairs to the top of a Buddhist mountain. According to Sina Auto, the video showed amazed onlookers cheering as the Range Rover powered its way up the steps. At its steepest point the route up Zhangjiajie Tianmenshan is about 50 degrees, but the driver made the feat look as simple as racing along a freeway, and paused on only a couple of short occasions.

“What is the significance of the campaign for Land Rover?” asked Sina Auto. “Was it intended to prove its dynamic powertrain, high chassis, outstanding four-wheel drive power distribution system, suspension system?”

For China’s more affluent consumers this Jeremy Clarksonesque gimmick will have done all of the above, plus reinforced the view that there is no safer vehicle in which to conduct the daily school run.

Anchor woman

Anchor woman
Oct 27, 2017 (WiC 385)

As Hurricane Irma charged toward Florida’s coast last month, officials held a news conference to warn residents of the mandatory evacuation. However, hearing-impaired Americans were horrified by the sign language interpreter, who was seen saying something about “pizza” and “bear monster”.

When it came to broadcasting supreme leader Xi Jinping’s keynote report at the 19th Party Congress, similar mistakes were unthinkable.

The biggest challenge? Xi’s speech took about 210 minutes. And somewhat surprisingly – given the importance of the event – Zhou Ye was only informed she would be doing the signing a day before the summit began. More daunting still: Zhou only had a chance to read Xi’s 32,000-word keynote speech 40 minutes before he started talking. Adding to her discomfort: she had to sit on a backless chair so that her signing could be seen clearly on TV screens. “My shoulders and waist were so stiff that I could barely stand after the live broadcast,” Zhou told Beijing Evening News.

The first time viewers got to see Zhou’s sign language skills was during former Premier Wen Jiabao’s maiden government work report. On that occasion he kept things shorter – just 53 minutes.

Alongside Xi himself – whose vocal chords lasted for the marathon period of the speech – the 54 year-old has also shown her considerable powers of endurance.