Making memes - hits and misses by Thomas O'Malley


Here's a selection of meme-type things I made and posted to the Facebook page of Bespoke Beijing during two years working as Propaganda Secretary. (Which essentially meant content and social media marketing, blogging, email marketing and other travel company type stuff).

For the Year of the Horse, of course. A quick Adobe Illustrator job, turned out quite nice.

Staging a life-sized Where's Wally in the Forbidden City was my way of celebrating China's holiday crowds. The design was just a simple riff on the classic kids books. Click the cover to play!


The now infamous "burhkini", as seen in China's coastal city of Qingdao. (It's to prevent tanning of the face). Making memes is creepy.


This is China's famous pi dan, or "thousand year" egg. The boss didn't like this one, 'cos she thought the egg looked gross. Fine, she had a point. A miss.


A bit too complicated for non-Star Wars geeks, in retropsect. But I thought it was clever at the time. (This, by the way, is the view from the Bespoke office on a clear air day). Miss.


The most shares of all. Gulou is like the Brooklyn of Beijing, in case you didn't know. And this guy is a baller.


Eddard Stark was still alive back then [sniff]. Winters in Beijing are the down season, so we tried to focus on the good points. Like delicious hot pot.


And ice swimming. Crazy.


And winter is when the near-mythical hutong weasel comes out to play. The above were to promote a photo contest I devised urging people to capture this 'monster' on film. I don't think we ever gave out a prize...


Disney's UP was the inspiration for this. Sad, but happy. Uppy.


This was around the time of that big yellow duck coming up from Hong Kong to Beijing. I wrote this blog post about it destroying the city, for reasons I forget.


Here was us trying to encourage more interaction on the site. But I think Facebook was wise to it. Clever old Facebook. Miss.




And finally... This is actually my dad at Jinshanling Great Wall. I hope he knows all that exertion and vertigo meant that he starred in a mildly diverting meme. And at least he's not naked.

Where's Wally in China? by Thomas O'Malley

He's in the Forbidden City! I created this little booklet as part of a publicity stunt I devised for Bespoke Beijing during China's famously congested Golden Week national holiday. With Beijing's tourist sites overrun with visitors, the temptation is to avoid sightseeing altogether. Or... seize the opportunity and play a life-sized game of Where's Wally? instead. Next year: Badaling Great Wall. Big thanks to Liz Phung for helping out with the photography, and Harold from XIX Spirit for being such a great Wally. Click the cover above to check it out.

Despite the pollution it was a fun day out. The only folks who clocked it that it was a Where's Wally stunt were foreign tourists. Chinese tourists figured out he was supposed to be someone, but the closest they got was an old lady who knowingly declared him to be 麦当劳叔叔 (Ronald McDonald!).


The full "Where's Wally in China" (Wo Li is his official Chinese name, actually) game can be played / read over at Bespoke Beijing's website.

Ordos, ghost town of Inner Mongolia by Thomas O'Malley

A side trip on an assignment in Inner Mongolia to gawp at what has become known as Ordos ghost town, the recently planned and built 'new city' about 30km from the old one, which has spectacularly failed to work. Only had time for a couple of shots as we drove through empty streets.

These photos were consciously taken to show Ordos at her most empty; in fact, a McDonalds was doing decent trade and there were a few other signs of life. It'll fill up soon enough, was our consensus.

The driver told us the hospital has no doctors, the museum no artifacts and the housing is about 10-15 percent occupied. With apartments down to a tenth of the original asking price maybe now's the time to invest. Right?