Can Seediq Bale Do for Taiwan What ‘Time’ Travel Cannot?


Taiwan, remember that place? Wildly significant both economically and politically through the last half of the 20th century, the island nation that maybe kind of isn’t a nation at all has been feeling a pinch in significance as the People’s Republic next door continues to grow in importance.

So while recent reports about Taiwan’s economic future vary (manufacturing drops and global talent flees but investment pours in), the island’s tourism bureau is taking measures to sell interest in the destination via a new tourism campaign, “My Beautiful Island.”

It was only a few months ago that Taiwan launched a new tourism campaign with the tagline, “Taiwan: The Heart of Asia.” Now, its new tourism campaign insists, it’s “Time for Taiwan.”[more]

While the full version of the moody commercial clocks in at a walloping 16 minutes, (mercifully) shorter, digestible 60 and 30 second versions are available. The bureau hopes the ads will appeal to four segments—young backpackers, senior couples, young women, and families—in a film it says “escapes the constraints of a rigid government promotional film.”

The full-length version is slow going, taking over two minutes to get out of the airport alone. The shorter, far more compelling, spots for “My Beautiful Island” prove just how much the longer version actually works against its own energy.

The mood of philosophical travel that the ad attempts to capture is noble, but may have overdone its stated focus on “人” (people) at the expense of investing viewers in what it is about Taiwan that should compel them to make expensive, many-hours-long flights (when mainland China is a similar flight away). Where is the specific uniqueness, like Taiwan’s “revived old towns” or the “toilet restaurant?

While the “Time for Taiwan” campaign targets true foreigners, Taiwan is also working to open a tourism connection that was unthinkable just two decades ago. Taipei officials just announced that mainland agency would work with to promote Taiwan travel to mainlanders, the “first cooperation on web tourism information services between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.”

In the end, the most productive promotional effort for Taiwan might be the film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale, a Taiwanese action film that reached back before the whole recent Taiwan-Chinese unpleasantness to pit the island against villains that all Chinese love to hate: The Japanese!

The much-buzzed-about film tells the tale of the native Taiwanese resistance to invading Japanese imperialists prior to World War II. Featuring stunning island vistas of Mount Chilai, it’s exactly the kind of production that can inspire further interest in a place.