The 'Take Over America' campaign is a bold move initiated by two little-known companies: Ittiz (a marketing agency) and Global From Asia (a conference organiser and podcast producer concentrating on ecommerce).
The duo sent red envelopes containing actual US bills with removable stickers of Chinese emperors to 500 of the biggest companies in Shenzhen, including Lenovo, ZTE, Meizu, Huawei, Haier, Oppo and DJI. Each note is customised to each brand with “Are you ready to take over America?” printed.
US$1: George Washington becomes Emperor Kangxi
US$5: Abraham Lincoln becomes Emperor Tang Taizong
US$10: Alexander Hamilton becomes Emperor Wu Zetian
US$20: Andrew Jackson becomes Emperor Ming Cheng Zu
US$100: Benjamin Franklin becomes Emperor Qin Shihuang
The timing for this stunt intentionally coincides with the upcoming US Independence Day holiday next week, because what better day to hint that the US is at risk of losing its global hegemony?
Apart from the comedic aspect of the altered currency, the political competitive undertones are evident. Ittiz came up with the idea for the campaign a few months ago after considering the outcome of the US presidential election. Sean Davis, CEO of Ittiz, said with the current state of globalisation and the general interconnectedness of countries, the likelihood of China’s rise is as probable as ever.
The agency wanted to create "something that taught companies in Shenzhen the value of thinking creatively", said Davis. He believed this to be a creative way to highlight the importance of marketing for Chinese companies going global by tying it in directly with actual money.
Davis expects this campaign to attract more attention to his agency and showcase what Ittiz can do for clients. “One of the other reasons we ran this campaign was to showcase the creative abilities currently available in Shenzhen. A lot of the time there is a large focus on hardware, while the creatives are left out in the cold," he said. "We wanted to show that Shenzhen is not only a place for hardware innovation, but for innovation on all fronts, such as, in our case, marketing, branding, and design.”
To this, Mike Michelini, CEO of Global From Asia, added, "We are anticipating quite a response as something like this has previously not been done in Shenzhen. We feel this idea will stick into the brains of the recipients and help build an overall reputation for us in Shenzhen."
We hope that this doesn't stick in the brains of the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing for, gasp, defacement of currency, a violation of Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code.