Chinese Customer Calls Bull On Car

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

When an American wants to attract attention to his car & dealer woes, the tech-savvy slighted customer sets up a [name_of_dealer]sucksrealbad.com, and protests from the privacy of his webserver. The traditional types take up position in front of said sales outlet with some placards.

In China, the preferred mode of protest is by farm animal. A Chinese man called bull on his car and dealer.

Carnewschina brings us the story of a man from of Hangzhou who is dissatisfied with his brand new Volvo XC60 SUV and the lack of dealer service. The man does not seem to be on the J.D.Power panel, so he used different means to voice his dissatisfaction. He had his troubled XC60 pulled through the city by an ox. Before you say “gee, Geely:” It was an imported, Made-in-Belgium Volvo.

The text on the placard describes the issues. Says Carnewschina: “The big red character is ‘niu’. It means ‘ox’ or ‘cow’ but also, like in many other countries, ‘stupid’.”

True. Also, any connotations with farmers are deeply demeaning amongst Chinese city-dwellers. Note that “niu” stands for anything bovine in Chinese, be it ox, bull, or female cow. The word needs to be used with care. Indiscriminate usage can cause a black eye, or worse, it can be understood as admiration: “Niu bi” literally means “cow pussy” in Chinese, but as the seminal text on the topic explains:

Niubi is a term of approbation, perhaps the greatest such term in colloquial Chinese. Niubi is an attitude, a lifestyle: a complete lack of concern over what other people think of you, and the resulting freedom to do whatever you please. It is knowing exactly what you’re capable of, making the decision to act, and to hell with the consequences. It is the essence of ‘cool’, but taken to the nth degree, and with a dirty word thrown in.”

This is a big topic in China, so big that books are written about it.

To avoid confusion between criticism and acclaim, other Chinese use farm animals which are deeply insulting without even the slightest possibility of ambiguity. This man, also documented by Carnewschina, expressed his anger at Range Rover and its dealer with a pair of donkeys. This is how you handle things if you are a middle class Chinese, just affluent enough to afford an imported car that shows that you are not a farmer.

If you are really rich and totally niubi, then you settle your differences with Lamborghini and your Gallardo dealer like that. It will pulverize any chance of a warranty refund. But it makes for great YouTube.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Aug 28, 2011

    "If you are really rich and totally niubi, then you settle your differences with Lamborghini and your Gallardo dealer like that. It will pulverize any chance of a warranty refund. But it makes for great YouTube." I want to do this with both my top-dollar HP laptop and touch-screen printer.

  • Wsn Wsn on Aug 29, 2011

    --- The text on the placard describes the issues. Says Carnewschina: “The big red character is ‘niu’. It means ‘ox’ or ‘cow’ but also, like in many other countries, ‘stupid’.” Bertel, in no way "niu" refers to "stupid" in Chinese. His statement that "Volvo niu" does not translate to "Volvo is stupid", instead it means "Volvo [is acting] bullish".

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