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Home > Topics > 2016 China Features
From slogans to stories, CPC strives to reach more people
2016/09/26

By Cao Peixian and Zhai Xiang

Zhou Fuchen, 67, a Communist Party of China (CPC) member, was as surprised as anyone to see an advert for the CPC on TV.

Debuting just days ahead of the CPC's 95 anniversary in June, , featured CPC members from all walks of life.

Screen shot of the Party's first-ever public-service advert, "Who am I"

The one-minute clip begin with, "Who am I? What kind of person am I?"

Then on screen is a teacher turning off the lights at the end of the day; a street worker cleaning the roads in the early hours; a surgeon falling asleep in the corridor after leaving the operating theater; and a police officer directing traffic while a thunderstorm rages around him. The video ends with, "I'm the Communist Party of China. I'm always by your side."

"Telling fresh stories instead using dry slogans is a complete departure from the traditional Party publicity approach. Not to mention it is a TV advertisement," said Zhou, who had worked in the Party publicity department of a Beijing-based state-owned enterprise for over a decade before retiring in 2009.

"As far as I am concerned, the actions of the ordinary Party members in the video speak louder than hundreds of words," Zhou added.

After the ad was shared online, millions of people, not just Party members like Zhou, lauded the CPC's advert for reaching more Chinese people, especially the younger generation.

"The ad reminded me of my chemistry teacher in high school, who has always been responsible and patient and wanted to help us be better people," said college student "lunuohuhu" on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

Foreign observers, too, appreciated the new video, saying it was well done and effective.

"Telling China's story via videos is important," Jerrold Green, president and CEO of the Pacific Council on International Policy, told Xinhua.

Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, agreed with Green.

"The production quality is high and it presents a sympathetic, human face of the Party," Daly said in an interview with Xinhua.

CHANGING FOCUS

However, the success of this political promo did not surprise domestic Party watchers.

Experts agreed that with a history spanning almost a century, it was high time for the CPC to figure out how to communicate with ordinary Chinese and the world -- to highlight what it really is and what it has done.

"The Party should have its voice heard and, more importantly, understood and remembered by the audience," said Xin Ming, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.

"Who am I" resonated with a great majority of the Chinese audience.

"The CPC's publicity campaigns used to concentrate on the great leaders or famous people, while seldom touching upon the lives of ordinary people, this was an outdated approach," said Liu Dongchao, with the Chinese Academy of Governance.

The video follows other creative approaches to promotion.

At the beginning of 2014, a three-minute video titled "The Communist Party of China is with you along the way" explained the "Chinese Dream”, a concept put forward by the central leadership, by relating it to the individual dreams of ordinary Chinese.

UNORTHODOX TOOLS

Targeting younger viewers, the CPC has also released a series of animated raps to promote itself and its policies. Some were translated in to English to expand their reach internationally.

In October last year, a English-language rap animation was released, which featured chirpy, colorful animated characters singing about the thirteenth Five Year Plan, or the "shisanwu."

Screen shot of the "shisanwu" animation

"The CPC has changed its approach to publicity to suit the age of social media and the interests of young generation, which should be applauded as progress," Liu said.

However, not everyone is enamored with these "unorthodox pieces."

The only foreigners who think about Chinese domestic political issues think about them seriously, and their views aren't swayed by cartoons, Daly said.

Echoing Daly's view, Xin noted that it is always the content, not the form, that determines the effectiveness of promotion.

"The Party should think about what kind of message is suitable for its audience, whether they are at home or around the globe," Xin said. 

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