Enormous robotic babies and Tron-like cars don’t have much in common, but don’t tell that to the planners at the Shanghai World Expo. Aside from the unique welcome-mat displays, however, even more interesting is what’s happening behind the scenes.
The Expo will cost China $60 billion USD, more than the cost of the Beijing Olympics. The US presence, sadly, is a monument to unoriginality – particularly when compared with what Russia and the Netherlands have in place. (The horrendous branding effort by the US at this vital global meeting will get a rant in a future blog post.)
But for the real symbolic and media action, American businesses should really be paying attention to another exhibit being unveiled at the Expo, which shows smart branding efforts in action.
The “Bund Bull” is about to announce to the world Shanghai’s preeminence in banking – as it hopes to achieve by 2020. To be unveiled in the Bund district, a famous colonial-era part of the city, the bull is designed by Arturo DiModica – the same designer of “Charging Bull” of Wall Street fame.
There are some not-so-subtle differences between the statues. The Bund Bull is redder, younger and stronger than Charging Bull. And instead of its head facing down, as on Wall Street, this bull’s head will tilt upward. The symbolism couldn’t be more striking, and the timing is everything.
All signs point to China’s continued rise as an economic superpower. While America is in the midst of an economic recovery, the long-term forecasts show China with growing influence over our economic future. Our Charging Bull has his head lowered and neck exposed. In bullfighting this pose is known as “el momento de la verdad” – the perfect moment for the matador to finish the bull with a well-placed sword.
The Bund Bull shows no such vulnerability.
Should China’s economic gains ever radically outpace those of the US, expect to see the brand of Bund Bull charging alongside media coverage for years to come.