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Tourism officials forced to pull racy ad from busesCity of Lichuan in Hubei set out to attract visitors with a campaign in neighbouring Chongqing, but the words could be read as insulting and obsceneFiona Tam11 July 2012Tourism officials in Lichuan, Hubei, pulled a controversial advertisement from 21 buses in neighbouring Chongqing yesterday after its racy play on words generated heated debate.The advertisement, which translates literally as “I rely on Chongqing; Lichuan a pleasantly cool city”, has been widely circulated on mainland microblogs and chat rooms this month because the phrase “wo kao Chongqing” can also be read as “I f*** Chongqing”.Although Lichuan tourism bureau chief Sun Fumin told media last week that the advert was trying to say that Lichuan relied on holidaymakers from Chongqing, angry residents of the southwestern municipality said the words insulted them.“Lichuan’s tourism authorities would be too naive if they dare to say they didn’t know that the words, ‘I rely on’, are obscene words in spoken language and cyber space,” one internet user wrote. “Using a crude sense of humour in advertisements may be eye-catching, but it’ll also cost Lichuan its reputation.”Another internet user wondered why Lichuan was offending Chongqing people if it wanted to attract them as tourists.But Sun said that at least the public would now remember Lichuan, regardless of how they reacted to the advert.He said the advertising company had also insisted that the slogan be approved by Chongqing authorities before being put on the buses.Chongqing’s industry and commerce administration told Lichuan tourism authorities to remove the controversial ad from the buses after the words triggered huge public debate, but the Lichuan authorities declined to comply until yesterday.“To respond to Chongqing authorities’ request, Lichuan’s tourism bureau agreed to revise the advertisement ‘I rely on Chongqing; Lichuan a pleasantly cool city’ to ‘Neighbouring Chongqing; Lichuan a pleasantly cool city’, the Lichuan authorities said yesterday. “The amendment is proof that we don’t want to promote the city by sensationalising news … and try to bring out a healthy and positive public image.”The Chongqing Morning Post reported that the controversial ads had been carried by buses in the municipality since last month.It is not the first time that a mainland city has used a double entendre to promote tourism.In 2010, Yichun, in Jiangxi, triggered online debate after an advertisement that translated literally as “Yichun, a city called spring” was published on its official tourism website.The words “called spring” - jiao chun in pinyin - are widely understood as “horny” in common usage and mainland internet users accused the government website of obscenity and promoting it as “Yichun, a horny city”.“The Yichun advertisement tried to be eye-catching with claptrap by using vulgar words,” one internet user commented. “Government websites should be cautious about each word they use and should not promote the city with words like ‘horny’.”
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