First time on this blog? Beijing Traffic Lesson: Left Turn is probably a good place to start.

Monday, July 30, 2007




Is this thing on?

Thank you for joining me today for this exciting unveiling.

As a marketer, it is my job to come up with catchy, slick branding to help products or concepts rise above the status of commodity.

It makes our lives better and richer. I mean, who wants carbonated food-coloring-and-sugar-water when you can have a Coke? And who would choose a hamburger sandwich and French-fried potaters when a Happy Meal is available? (It’s both happy AND a meal! I'm all over THAT action!) How can we possibly grasp the enormity of a whole generation or social strata without labels like Boomers, Gen X and Yuppies?

Well, I’ve been reading a lot of news lately, especially economic news, and it seems like we need a term for what’s happening in China. Sure, we’re regurgitating a lot of tired old phrases like ‘bubble economy’ and ‘Wild West’ – yawn! – but what we really need is something that captures China in all its crazed, frantic, optimistic, excess-liquidity, growing-pained, opulent, upwardly-mobile, occasionally corner-cutting glory. Something that’s easy to remember. Something that looks good on, say, the cover of Fortune or Time magazine.

Therefore, based on the depth of knowledge and expertise that can only come from spending 81 days in a sheltered existence in a foreign country, I have decided to brand this era of Chinese history. (No, no, that's OK, China, you can thank me later.) And you, lucky souls, are here to witness it.

Without further ado, I give you….



(parting curtain)


Yes, the Chubble, or “China-Bubble,” is the wave of the future. In just two syllables, it captures the enormity of 1.4 billion people in the worlds 4th (soon to be 3rd) biggest economy, a construction boom soaking up half of the world’s heavy-lift construction cranes, and a stock market that can gain or lose 6% of its value in a single day (sometimes both) without anyone batting an eye.

Chubble is expressive. Chubble is poignant. Best of all, Chubble is inherently funny because it sounds kinda like ‘Chubby.’

Proper Usage of Chubble

  • ‘Chubble’ should always be capitalized, since the ‘Ch’ stands in for the proper name ‘China.’
  • ‘Chubble’ is applied only to the overall economic and political burgeoning of China in the early 2000’s; as such it is ‘the Chubble’ not ‘a Chubble.’ It is singular.
  • In certain circumstances, it can be used to modify another noun, as in “Another Chubble aftershock was felt on Wall Street today when…”

Best of all, Chubble is extremely flexible as a word, as you can see in these Suggested Headlines:

  • For the Wall Street Journal, the next time China dumps $100 billion in U.S. real estate or stocks: “More Chubble Cash Floods U.S. Markets.”
  • For the New York Post, should a crash ever occur: “Chubble Chursts.”

The Broader Context of Chubble

If you’re like most of the world, you’re asking yourself “What does this mean? How should I feel about China’s emerging strength internationally? Is China a threat, or an instrument of world prosperity? Are they a partner or usurper? How will their internal politics translate to the world stage? Is this sustainable? Can it possibly come to rest gently on an even keel, or must any wave that crests so high inevitably come crashing down? And if it does crash, will it be on our—“

At this point, I’ll say “Shhhh! It’s OK!” and pat you on the shoulder and give you a juice box. Later, when you’re laying on the couch with your feet up and a cold washcloth on your forehead, I’ll give you my best answer to all those questions:

Who knows? Who cares? That’s for historians to decide in 20 years or so. For now, just strap yourself into the roller coaster and enjoy the ride!

You probably can get a more thoughtful interpretation somewhere if you want one. As for me, I’m in marketing. Packaging and varnish. What’s inside is irrelevant. So I beseech you, help me make Chubble the best new word of 2007.

How Can You Participate in this Linguistic Revolution?

Simple. Use ‘Chubble’ in everyday conversation, and when people ask what it means, explain to them with an air of condescension and pity. They’ll feel foolish for not knowing about it, and will use it with THEIR friends so THEY can feel superior.

If you know any journalists, tell them to use the word liberally. Clay Chandler, Asia Editor of Fortune Magazine, you enjoyed my traffic diagram, so I’m SURE you’ll love ‘Chubble!’ Any friends of Mr. Chandler reading this? Send this to him and tell him I’ll give him $20 (or 150 renminbi) to use the word in his blog! Like any good marketer, I’m not above sweetening the pot a little.

Any Wikipedia nuts out there? See what you can’t do about getting Chubble listed. I did a Google search, and there are a few instances of the word ‘chubble’ out there, but they’re mostly unenlightened fat jokes – how juvenile!

Please. Help me raise ‘Chubble’ to the status and prominence it deserves. Thank you for your time.