Creative: New Campaigns – Ancient Chinese Secret

Shanghai Tang Ads Tap Into Chi
Agency: Balet & Albert
Client: Shanghai Tang
Creative Director: Marc Balet
Copywriter: Carey Fox
Art Director: Mayumi Tatsuta
Photographers: Walter Chin, Wolfgang Ludes
What better way to inspire foot traffic to an upscale clothing store steeped in Chinese culture than to create an ad campaign centered on “chi,” the Chinese word for energy?
To emphasize the cultural authenticity of Shanghai Tang’s clothing and accessories, New York ad shop Balet & Albert created a campaign of six print ads showing the store’s products encircled by a vibrant glow representing their energy. Some executions picture Venezuelan model Patricia Velasquez in the store’s trademark Chinese-inspired fashions; others show accessories such as pens, picture frames and silk-bound notebooks.
Striking, lively colors–such as fuchsia, purple and green–were chosen for the ads to reflect the eye-catching colors for which the Shanghai Tang stores in New York and Hong Kong are known for. “It looks like somebody threw a switch and turned the ads on,” says Marc Balet, creative director at Balet & Albert.
The $1.5 million print effort, Shanghai Tang’s first, debuts this week in New York magazine. The campaign will also run in October editions of Vogue, W and The New York Times. Each ad features the headline “Re-Orient Yourself” and the reminder “Made by Chinese” printed below the store’s name.
Velasquez, who has appeared in magazines such as Elle, Mademoiselle and Vogue and has a role in Universal Studio’s 1999 remake of The Mummy, was chosen for her dark features. Both David Tang, the Chinese tycoon who owns the stores, and the agency wanted a slightly exotic yet non-Asian woman to hint at the store’s Far Eastern roots. “We didn’t want to hit people over the head” with the Chinese theme, explains Balet.
The New York store opened last November across the street from fabled fashion emporium Barneys New York on Madison Avenue. As part of the company’s marketing effort, Shanghai Tang has installed three 15-foot-high posters of Velasquez in the store’s windows. An emotionless expression blankets her face to convey a look of authority. “We have three goddesses looking out over Madison Avenue,” says Balet, who spent 12 years as Andy Warhol’s art director before founding the agency with partner Rick Albert six years ago.
Balet & Albert won the business this summer following a review. The agency, with more than $25 million in billings, has a heavy fashion client base, including Emporio Armani, Sebago shoes and Ron Chereskin menswear.