Chapter 572 To help or not to help?
With the "World No Tobacco Day" approaching, a news report was attracting extensive concern.
The news came from Central TV's live broadcast studio. It was related to the new regulations of public service announcements. The authorities had passed several new regulations regarding PSAs. It stated very clearly on the document that public service announcements that brought awareness to the adverse effects of smoking on televisions commercials were banned from using real human organs as examples. There were also three or four similar new regulations along these lines. When this direct order was released, Central TV along with other provincial and satellite channel were not greatly affected since they were more or less able to conform to the new regulations. With only some slight adjustment and modification of the images based on the new policies, it would be sufficient to meet the new standards. But Beijing Television and some other BTV provincial channels would be greatly affected.
Beijing Television's quit smoking public service ad would directly get axed!
Of the World No Tobacco Day advertisements of two other provincial channels under Beijing Television Station, one would get axed, while the other had still not passed the censorship check. A lot of money used for the production fees were wasted, resulting in a heavy loss.
The netizens were puzzled.
"It is so strict?"
"Why did they suddenly come up with such a policy?"
"Yea, PSAs are not-for-profit anyway and are usually funded out of the television station's own pocket. If they are being so restrictive, won't the television station suffer?"
"Don't you all know that some time ago a nonprofit organization had protested the PSAs shown on television for displaying unsuitable images? Seems like it happened at the end of last year. A commercial depicted the blackened lung of a smoker, who was suffering from advanced-stage lung cancer, in an operating room being cut open. A survey showed that most audiences could not accept such images, especially the juveniles and non-smokers. Actually, quit smoking advertisements were primarily targeted at smokers, but because television broadcasts were unable to filter this to the target groups, it ended with the non-smokers and juveniles getting terrified before the smokers could get the message. Images of an overly gory and bloody scene must be controlled so as to cover all aspects of the viewers' comfort."
"So that's why."
"That is true. I was watching the Beijing Television commercial that showed the blackened lungs just yesterday. It wasn't actually frightening since I have seen it so many times. Quit smoking commercials are always more or less the same, always giving statistics on the number of fatalities, infertility, black lungs, and all that. I get bored just watching them, since this has no effect on a hardcore smoker. I've seen my fair share of such commercials and am already immune to them. Such images no longer scare me into quitting. If they have the time to show those commercials, they might as well show other types of commercials.
"Right, the current quit smoking advertisements are pretty much the same."
"Few years ago, I felt uncomfortable when I saw it for the first time and even quit smoking for a few months, but after watching it more often, it became pointless and meaningless with no value added."
"Beijing Television Station will have a headache because of this."
"The 'World No Tobacco Day' is tomorrow, so let's see how they're going to change it."
"Tomorrow? It'll be too late. If they don't make it in time, won't they incur a fine? The current policies are very strict. When it comes to public service, the television stations are expected to meet a minimum requirement, but if they don't, they get fined a hefty amount."
At another place.
While Zhang Ye and his parents were chatting, a call from Hu Fei arrived.
"Little Zhang, it's me," Hu Fei said.
Zhang Ye replied, "Hey, Brother Hu, what's the matter?"
Hu Fei spoke hesitatingly, "About that...I have something to discuss with you."
"Just be direct." Zhang Ye took the remote control and lowered the television's volume. Beside him, his parents also stopped talking.
Hu Fei said, "It's not convenient to speak over the phone, let's meet up and talk."
"Sure, where do you want to meet?" Zhang Ye agreed. He had no hesitation when it came to his friends and benefactors.
Hu Fei considered for a moment before carefully saying, "You're almost a B-list celebrity now, so I think it's a little inconvenient for you to be out in public since you might get spotted by your fans. Why don't you come over to Beijing Television Station instead. You know, since you left, you have not come back for a visit yet. Besides, Dafei, Xiao Lu, and the others are all thinking about you. Why don't you come over and we'll catch up, alright? Anyways, you do not have a job currently, so shouldn't you have time?"
Zhang Ye blinked, roughly understanding what was going on.
Without giving him a chance to speak, Hu Fei immediately said, "Ha, it's settled. Send me a message when you're almost there. I will be waiting for you. Bye."
The call ended before he could say anything.
Zhang Ye was a little speechless. He turned to the side and said, "Dad, Mom, I'll be heading to Beijing Television Station for a while."
His mother stared at him and said, "Beijing Television Station? Why are you still going there?"
"Hai, a friend has something to discuss with me. Maybe he needs my help on something." Zhang Ye was already changing his clothes. "I won't be having lunch at home then."
His mother said unhappily, "You were fired and thrown out by them last time, but now that there's something they need your help for, you'll go at their beck and call? Have you forgotten about the matter regarding Wang Shuixin? It was all that Wang Shuixin's fault that his son misbehaved in the office and even started a fight. He kept making things difficult for you and even corruptedly handled matters. Father Wei who was such a nice fellow was even driven to death by him. When you upheld justice, the television station ended up firing you instead. How is that fair! I am so angry just bringing this matter up!"
Zhang Ye said, "Aiya, Wang Shuixin has already been sentenced anyway. The television station fired me not because I was wrong to uphold justice, but because I made trouble during the live broadcast."
His mother said angrily, "You're still speaking up for them?"
Zhang Ye smiled dryly. "I wasn't speaking up for them. At that time I was fired, I was also unhappy about it, but I understand the television station's decision. My way of doing things was somewhat inappropriate."
"You damned kid!" his mother said in anger.
Zhang Ye quickly soothed her, "Mom, don't be angry, don't be angry. I know what what I'm doing."
His mother said, "What do you know!"
His father started to speak up, "OK, let our son settle his own matters. What are you getting so worried for?"
Zhang Ye feelings for Beijing Television Station were so complicated that even he could not explain it. Having worked for some time now in the industry, the worst relationship he had was with Beijing Television Station. When he was there, he was involved in a fight, detained at a police station, scolded his leaders, made trouble during a live broadcast, and was finally fired by them. If it were anyone else, they would surely not have fond memories of this place. Zhang Ye also had a similar experience but the difference was that he held a deep and special appreciation for the television station.
First, as someone born and bred in Beijing, not only did he grow up watching Beijing Television, he also watched BTV Arts Channel, BTV Sports Channel, BTV Science and Education Channel as well as other local provincial channels which did not broadcast to other provinces. These kind of feelings were indescribable. Second, this was the place that nurtured him and where he had gained his first achievements. Hu Fei was the one who invited him to join them and gave him the chance to make his first appearance on TV. Having hosted a program like "Lecture Room," which turned out to be the crucial step in helping him become popular, he could not just disregard the kindness Hu Fei had shown to him.
When his mother finished speaking, Zhang Ye had not expected that he would actually speak up for Beijing Television Station. After thinking over for a while, he realized that he had already let bygones be bygones.
Half an hour later.
Beijing Television Station building.
Zhang Ye parked his car in the parking lot and got out, wearing his sunglasses. Zhang Ye walked right up to the building's front entrance, then looked up to see the once familiar office building before walking in with big strides.
In the lobby, someone had noticed him.
"This person looks quite familiar."
"Aiyo! Could that be Zhang Ye?"
"It is Zhang Ye!"
"It really is Zhang Ye!"
"What is Teacher Zhang doing here? Is he here for a program's guest role? Or is he here to do a program? I didn't hear about this!"
"Recently, Teacher Zhang has been on the cusp of the news, but there were no rumors of him having signed with any television stations. I suppose everyone is still observing the situation before making any moves?"
Without standing on ceremony, Zhang Ye made himself comfortable and sat down on the sofa in the lobby's resting area. He casually picked up a copy of a magazine while waiting.
A youth waved at him from a distance. "Teacher Zhang, long time no see."
Zhang Ye looked over to the person and found him quite familiar looking, but he was unable to recall his name. He only remembered that he was a staff member of a program team from one of the bigger departments. "Hello."
"Teacher Zhang, you getting more and more handsome!"
"Teacher Zhang, do you still remember me?"
"You appearing here today-does it mean...that you're returning to the station?"
Some staff members who had crossed paths with Zhang Ye before but weren't particularly close to him went up to greet him enthusiastically. Two reporters from the BTV News Channel hurried over when they heard he was here. They were trying very hard to fish for some first-hand information from him. Because even fools knew that Zhang Ye couldn't have appeared here without reason, especially since there were some very unhappy dealings between Zhang Ye and Beijing Television Station before. Everyone was curious and thought of many possibilities of his return with their rich imagination as they continued asking him for an answer.
At this moment, Hu Fei arrived.
There was a youth with beard stubble, looking quite lethargic, who came along with Hu Fei.
When Hu Fei saw so many people crowding around Zhang Ye, he said, "Make way, please make way." Then he casually greeted Zhang Ye and soon the three of them went upstairs from another side of the building. "See, you are still very popular. Even after you left Beijing Television Station for such a long time, everyone is still thinking about you."
Zhang Ye could feel that he implied more than that and chuckled, "Brother Hu, just tell me directly what you wish to say."
Hu Fei decided not to beat around the bush any longer, so he introduced the person on his left. "This is Sun Han. He's our station's manager of public service ads and just started work last year. He's also a son of one of my old colleagues."
Sun Han reached out his hand and said, "I've heard a lot about you."
Zhang Ye shook hands with him and said, "Nice to meet you."
Hu Fei, seemingly looking a little embarrassed, said, "I asked you here because of the matter of our public service announcement. I suppose you have already seen the morning news. This time, the station's public service ads have all been axed but since tomorrow is the 'World No Tobacco Day,' the new public service ad has to be approved by tomorrow. This is very urgent and Little Sun's side is unable to come up with any ideas. After their department deliberated for a long time, they still couldn't settle on a basic concept as there was no idea they could come up with at all."
Sun Han rubbed his beard stubble and said, "The past few days have worried me to death. When the new policies were passed so suddenly without warning and all our advertisements had to be withdrawn, it left us with no backup plans. Teacher Zhang, you are an alumnus of the station and have even helped out on the 'Save Electricity' public service ad before. Surely you know that in our department, we are not professional creatives. The department was set up two years ago and our main responsibilities cover coordination work, funding, and supervising, while most of our production work is outsourced to external advertising companies..." He spent a long time highlighting his difficulties.
Zhang Ye already guessed that it was this matter before he came over, so he asked, "Then why didn't you get an advertising company to do it?"
"None of them would accept the job," Sun Han said, looking very worried. "After we received the notifications at around 6 or 7 AM this morning, we immediately contacted the advertising companies to reshoot more World No Tobacco Day PSAs to replace the ones that were axed. If they couldn't do a full production, we were willing to settle for a concept and work on it on our own. However, as we did not have enough funds left due to having spent most of it on those previous 'quit smoking' advertisements, we ended up having apply for additional funding from the leader. But while some of the advertising companies rejected the job due to money issues, most of them rejected it due to the urgent timeline of the project. They felt that it was too tight for them to complete the project within a day and they would need at least three days to plan and produce it instead. But three days? Three days later, the World No Tobacco Day would have already passed by then! As for buying a concept, after asking some of these companies, they also told us that they wouldn't be able to give us any as there was a high demand for such quit smoking public service ads. So having sold them to the other bidders, there were no concepts left to sell to us."
As they spoke, the three men had reached the fifth floor.
Zhang Ye asked, "Why don't you just submit a simple advertisement which can meet the regulations first?"
Sun Han helplessly said, "That won't work since it would never get passed at the approval stage. Besides, the station won't agree to it since a public service announcement also showcases the quality of a television station. Although Beijing Television Station is not one the highest rated in the industry, it is still among the top television stations. We can't just bumble our way through it. Besides, the new policies were only handed down recently. I'm afraid we couldn't fool them even if we wanted. Who knows? If we did that, we might get made an example out of as the first warning to others.
Zhang Ye kept silent.
Sun Han looked at him and said, "Anyways, that's what the situation is like. Our time is short and we are really at our wits' end now. When we asked several advertising industry insiders and the staff in our Public Service Announcement Department, all of them highly recommended a person to me-you, Teacher Zhang."
Zhang Ye glanced at him and said, "We have to create a fifteen to twenty second public service ad within a day when there isn't much money, manpower, or concepts to begin with? If you are asking for a sloppy end product, that might still be possible, but if you want a well polished and detailed announcement that also has elements of creativity, then that is basically an unrealistic target!"
Sun Han said in a serious tone, "I know this matter is very difficult, but I am left with no choice. I could only think of getting Uncle Hu to ask for your help. Although I have not been working in the industry for a long time, I still know of your name in the advertising industry. Every single one of your creations, like the Save Electricity commercial, 'I'll Speak For Myself' promotional teaser, and the Brain Gold commercial, is classic textbook material in the advertising industry. There is no one else who can do except you!"
Hu Fei chipped in a word for Sun Han, "Little Zhang, I know that the station had been too harsh on you the last time. But at that critical time, the station was also forced to make a decision they did not want to make. I believe you know the station might face a great loss in reputation and also be fined heavily. Don't leave us in a lurch! Take it as giving face to me by helping us out! Besides, since your reputation in the media has been suffering a little recently with so many negative reports of you, if you get involved with a PSA, you will surely able to turn the tide a little. So if you have any other requests, just speak."
Sun Han added, "I can assure you that you will not be working for nothing. The fees are negotiable. As long as you can help the station tide over this crisis, I believe the fees..."
Zhang Ye waved his hands and interrupted him. "I don't want any money."
Sun Han was a little taken aback. Doesn't want money? He said, "But..."
Hu Fei interjected, "Listen to Little Zhang."
"If you want my help, it's not impossible." Zhang Ye said, "But I have a request."
Sun Han immediately answered, "Please speak."
Zhang Ye said, "I will call the shots on the overall planning for this project, including the delegation of manpower and use of funding. Everything will be decided by me-that is my only request."
Sun Han promised, "Rest assured of this. You are free to command everyone in our department including me."
Zhang Ye nodded. "Alright then."
Sun Han asked, "Then...it's settled?"
"I will accept this task. Let's enjoy working together." Zhang Ye shook hands once again.
Sun Han heaved a sigh of relief, giving an excited handshake. "With you leading us, we will certainly not have any worries anymore. Thank you so much, Teacher Zhang. You have really been a great help this time!"
Zhang Ye shook his head and said, "I cannot promise that I will be able to help for sure, since the time given is really too short."
Hu Fei patted Zhang Ye's shoulder and said, "However it turns out, thanks Little Zhang."
Zhang Ye laughed. "You're welcome. Since Brother Hu has spoken, I will definitely do my best to complete it even if I have to climb a mountain of swords or dive into a sea of flames.
"I like what you said." Hu Fei said, "In any case, I owe you one now."
Zhang Ye smirked. "Come on, with our relationship, do you still need to say that? So where will we be working? There's not much time left. Let's get started right away!"
Sun Han led the way. "Over here, this way. Come with me."
Hu Fei stayed where he stood and said, "You guys go ahead. I'm only here to link the both of you up. Now that my task is completed, I'll be leaving."