Xinhua Insight: Badge collection becomes impressive part of Expo culture
Monday, September 13, 2021 11:37 PM

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SHANGHAI, Sep. 14, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- It seems that one of the most sought-after items at the ongoing Shanghai World Expo 2010 by different pavilion staff, volunteers and some visitors are various kinds of badges. While some see collecting and exchanging badges as a good and effective way for communicating and creating new friendships, others believe there is a wonderful business opportunity in collecting badges.

SOMETHING MORE THAN A COLLECTION

Kamon Tatsuo, head of the cheering squad of the Japanese Industry Pavilion, has collected more than 475 badges that were produced to commemorate the Shanghai World Expo since May 1, when the event began.

Collections of badges by the 51-year-old, who is also a Japanese singer, range from different images of HaiBao, the mascot of the Shanghai Expo, to pins for different pavilions.

He said his collection dated back to the year 1970 when the World Expo was held in Osaka, Japan. As a student in sixth grade at a local primary school in his hometown, he competed with his classmate, Ken, to see who could collect the most badges. "Then, I got 64 badges, but Ken got 101," Tatsuo says.

Thirty-five years later, he collected 203 badges at the World Expo in Aichi, Japan.

But unfortunately, his friend Ken was unable to come to the Shanghai World Expo and join him in collecting badges, since he died of lung cancer in 2006. Tatsuo decided to collect more badges at the Shanghai World Expo for Ken, to help make the dream of his good friend come true.

"I love all of the badges that I've collected in Shanghai. My goal is to collect 500 badges," Tatsuo says.

Collecting for itself is not the only purpose, he says. Through collecting badges, communications with people from every corner of the world will be enhanced and information and feelings will be exchanged, he adds.

"Badge? Let's exchange."

"Where does your badge come from? I did not see such a pin before."

"From the Press Center. "

"You want to exchange? Look at mine. It's from the British Pavilion." Two badge fans who had not known each other before say "hello" to each other in this way.

Wandering inside the Expo Garden, one may often hear such conversations.

Actually, badge collecting and exchanges do not need much language and can even overcome language and cultural barriers, according to observers.

Toshio Nakamura, the secretary-general of the Aichi Expo, says that he is often asked about what is the significance of a World Expo nowadays, since telecommunications have been globalized and international tourism has expanded.

He says that an Expo, through face-to-face contacts among participants from all over the world and the behavior of volunteers, can make community activities more vigorous and diversified and enable people to communicate with each other more frequently, and thus reinforce social cohesion.

Social cohesion is a major concern of most post-industrialized nations, according to Nakamura. He says that human relations are now quite indifferent in Japan and apathy makes it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship within communities.

Having 300-odd badges pinned on the front part of their T-shirts, Xia Yong and Wan Shijie from eastern China's Zhejiang Province attract much attention. Two senior citizens, Zong Bingyu and Zong Xueqiao from Putuo District of Shanghai, followed them from the China Pavilion to the Expo Axle, searching for a chance to make exchanges.

A couple from Beijing, Lu Xianwei and Yin Hongyan, were also tempted by badges being worn by the two from Zhejiang, and took photographs as the two fans exchanged pins with the old people.

Yin said timidly, "We've just entered the Expo Garden. We have not yet got any badges. But may we make an exchange for something else?" Lu took out a pen from his pack. And the two fans from Zhejiang, moved by the Beijingers' sincerity, swapped two badges for the pen.

Observers say that a better life in a better city needs more communications and understanding. Badges have not only added a vivid tint to the Expo, but has also become a nexus to draw people closer to each other. Badge collecting and exchanges assist in explaining the Shanghai World Expo theme "Better City, Better Life" in their own way.

However, badge collections have also spurred scalpers' appetites. A badge from the German Pavilion was priced online at 3,000 yuan (441 U.S. dollars) as against the original price of a few scores of yuan. Some badges were even priced at as high as 10,000 yuan.

To fight against scalpers, Denmark's Odense Pavilion has stored hundreds of thousands of badges and decided to distribute, free-of-charge, 500 badges each day since late July. As a result, badges from the pavilion have been off the shelves at online stores.

For visitors who pay too much attention to collecting badges and not enough to exhibits , Morten Luxhoi, a staff member from the Odense Pavilion, composed a song to remind them of the exhibition itself and suggest that they should view exhibits more carefully.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES

Rough statistics show that approximately 1,000 different badges issued by Expo organizers and participants have been put up for sale.

Zhejiang Ruyi Gifts Co., Ltd., based in Wenzhou, a coastal city in Zhejiang Province, is one of the eye-catching badge manufacturers. The company, as a licensed Expo dealer, has designed 301 sets of badges, which embrace images of all pavilions at the Expo Garden.

Besides Ruyi products, those badges that are popular at the Expo include stylish badges issued by different pavilions and participants, and even by some individuals.

Coca Cola Pavilion is an example. It has issued 42 types of commemorative badges in six series. They are in different shapes, including round, square and shapes of a car and a cola bottle. And some designs can fit together to constitute a new design, which is believed to be more attractive.

The Coca Cola Pavilion has even held a badge party to spread the badge culture. At the party, badge fans shared their experience in collecting pins and displayed their respective valuable collections, including those that Coca Cola company (NYSE:KO) issued at different Olympics.

Observers believe a business opportunity lies in good ideas.

Virgile Ahouandjinou from Benin calls himself "King of the Pins" and owns around 10,000 badges from three World Expos. He also loves designing badges. Among those badges that he exchanged with other people, there were some of his own designs. He is designing a badge with the theme of welcoming the next Expo that is to be held in Milan, Italy in 2015.

Observers say business opportunities will also come from providing venues for badge exchanges in the post-Expo era as well as possible exhibitions for the pins.

 

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