In addition to being a complex, beautiful and rapidly changing country, we’ve all heard that China is a copyright lawyer’s worst nightmare. A place rife with pirated DVD’s, software and all manner of luxury clothing and handbag knockoffs. It seems that pirated goods have become such a lucrative industry that the country is now dedicating an entire mall to the concept.
According to recent news reports, a mall in Nanjing, China is set to open with all manner of “copycat” stores, sporting awnings with none-too-subtle reinterpretations of well-known Western brands. If you’re looking for your morning pick-me-up, go no further than “Bucksstar” coffee, the place for all your $5 latte needs in Nanjing. When you get hungry, mall visitors can patronize the local “OMC McDnoald’s” or even grab some “Pizza Huh.” Perhaps the pizza chain name is in reference to the quality of the ingredients?
When I first stumbled upon this article, I actually did a half-spit take. Could this be legit, I thought? Yet in a country with a rapidly emerging consumer class and growing lust for fancy French wine and gated communities, it starts to make more sense. For many individuals, owning and consuming brands legitimizes their place in the world, announcing their ascension to the modern global economy. The creators of this mall in Nanjing seem to have come to a similar conclusion – even a knockoff of the real thing, no matter how awkward and blatant to Western eyes, is better than no brands at all.