The pop duo Right Said Fred once crooned “I’m too sexy for this shirt… too sexy for Milan, New York and Japan”. The same boast cannot be said for the city of Dongguan in Guangdong province, which wants to be seen as anything but ‘sexy’. According to the Yangcheng Evening News, Dongguan has been running an advertising campaign denying its reputation as China’s “sex capital”. It has some convincing to do: the Oriental Morning Post thinks the reputation is well deserved, for instance, estimating that the city is home to 100,000 prostitutes. But Dongguan says it has closed down brothels as part of an anti-vice campaign that has cost the city an estimated Rmb40 billion ($6.43 billion) in lost GDP. The new ad campaign seeks to portray the city as a modern and wholesome destination, using clips that run on screens at high-speed train stations. Sadly for the planners, the exercise seems to have backfired, thanks to the media’s extensive reporting on the initiative. Every headline has carried the term ‘sex capital’, thus only reinforcing Dongguan’s association with the vice industry.
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