Sure… Chase isn’t the first advertiser to put up a Chinese ad in Koreatown. But for such a big company, it’s plain stupid marketing.

They probably thought it was okay because there’s a “Mandarin Chinese” Restaurant in the vicinity. No matter that it’s a Chinese-Korean place that has hangul signs in the window and whose patrons are Koreans.

There are very few residents in the area who can read the Chinese in the ad. The people living in that part of the city are mostly Spanish speakers, and the business patrons are Koreans who come to work and play in Koreatown.

But isn’t that hanja, you’re asking. Aren’t those not simplified mainland characters, but the traditional Chinese characters that Koreans learn to read in school?

Well, they aren’t all the sort of Chinese characters that have a direct equivalent in Korean. For example, in the ad, Los Angeles is 洛杉磯. A Chinese person can read that, but only 0.01% of Koreans would recognize that. Koreans do a transliteration of the English “Los Angeles” into 로스 앤젤레스 in hangul. Furthermore, not many Koreans know hanja well enough to read the other characters in that ad.

And the url in the ad… chase.com/ca redirects to an English site that has no language options. What then is the point of the ad? Might as well just have put up an English ad. More Koreans can appreciate the ad in English than in Chinese. In fact, I know this ad will convince Koreans yet again that it’s better to bank at Hanmi, Nara, Woori or any number of Korean banks in the area where they speak fluent Korean. Why would they want to go to a bank that can’t even tell the difference between Chinese and Korean?

Maybe Chase should hire the agency who executed the multilingual campaign of First 5 California. Everything from the ad content and placement to the website landing page was flawless. And, no, I don’t know who was responsible for that campaign.