A billboard outside a Beijing development promotes the project as "for distinguished residents", a commonly seen boast. Provided to China Daily
Advertisements that promote products as luxurious or "high-end" have been banned in a move experts say is designed to protect social harmony.
The clean up means commercials posted or aired in public can no longer include words like "supreme", "royal", "luxury" or "high class", all of which frequently appear in Chinese promotions for real estate developments, vehicles and wines.
According to a March 17 press release issued by the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce, officials will target advertisements that "promote hedonism" or "the worship of foreign-made products".
The regulation, which comes into effect on April, is aimed at preventing false advertising and aiding the growth of the industry, the authority said. Offenders face fines of up to 30,000 yuan.
Peking University sociologist Xia Xueluan agrees with the move. He told METRO: "We need to regulate the use of such words and catchphrases, as they can have an adverse impact on the whole society."
He said many advertisements promote the belief that "wealth is dignity" and can even upset low-income residents. "It's not creativity, it's the ruin of traditional culture," Xia added.
Wang Yong, who works at a State-owned company in Beijing, said that when he was looking for a new apartment, he noticed many real estate promotions used words like "royal" and "luxury".
"It put me off," said the 28-year old. "These words all represent high prices, which is something I can't afford."
Official statistics show that 10,390 advertisements have been registered for public display since 2006, including 1,413 in 2010. However, an insider at a Beijing advertising industry who did not want to be identified discussing the policy admitted that false advertising had become a common problem in the capital.
"Many of our clients are real estate firms who insist on using words like 'mansion' and 'elite' to make their properties sound better," she said. "Actually, some are not as luxurious as they say. Maybe the government is trying to reduce the difference between what is advertised and what the product is really like."
The legislation also targets the "abuse of idioms" in commercials, which is a recent phenomenon, said Mu Haifeng, the city's deputy director of advertisement management.
Work on the ban has been ongoing since 2007, when the Beijing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top advisory body, organized a workshop on the management of outdoor advertising.
(China Daily 03/21/2011)