To mark the 80th anniversary of its electric shaver, Dutch conglomerate Philips created an emotional 20-minute film, “Chinese Men’s Truth or Dare” (中国男人的真心话大冒险), directed by Zhang Dapeng. (His previous brand films, “What is Peppa?” and “What is Organic Life?” have previously been featured on CBI.)
Four men share a tight cabin with bunks on an overnight sleeper train, and one has brought aboard a Philips anniversary gift box that includes a limited-edition shaver and a set of truth or dare cards. He invites the others to play, and over the course of the night, each reveals his own struggles, reflecting the range of social anxieties faced by upwardly mobile Chinese men at different stages of their lives. The recent college graduate is hopeful but struggles to balance family, love and career. A businessman has allowed his work to wreak havoc on his health. A single father fears that formally divorcing his wife, who left him, to marry a new love will potentially traumatize his daughter. Lastly, a wealthy middle-aged tech investor finds himself detached from his family and prone to irrational fears.
As the new day breaks, the Philips gift box comes back into focus as its electric shaver is presented as a product that enables self-care after the soul-searching night. Each man, as he arrives at his destination, also resolves his personal dilemma.
The film has received a good deal of positive feedback due to the quality of the production and the realism of the dialogue, characters, and cinematography, amassing over a million views on the website of New Studios Media. China Daily also used the film as a jumping-off point for a Weibo discussion of contemporary social pressures faced by Chinese men.
However, Philips does not appear to have engaged in much promotion of the film, and oddly it does not appear on the brand’s official Weibo account. Philips also held a series of events in China to mark the 80th anniversary of its shavers, including a collaboration with GQ that featured celebrities playing truth or dare to promote the shaver, but these events did not create a connection with the short film or make any overt reference to it.