This Refrigerator Can Separate, and Recouple, as Fast as Young Love

Postmodern cooling for postmodern breakups

Fresh out of China comes Haier Leader plugging a refrigerator called the i-Case in a charming ad for a quirky feature.

The i-Case is iconoclastic, a Volkswagen Beetle in fridging: It vibes more like a gaming console than an icebox, and it can break into two modular compartments.

Haier Leader | i-Case Refrigerator

This means you can stylishly dual-tone it, as the couple above has done, or take half away … which the couple also almost does.

It turns out that in refrigeration, many jockey for the hearts of millennials and those upstart Gen-Zs, who are aging into the prime time of fridge ownership. (We don't actually know if there's an average age for this.)

The average big fridge lasts about 14 years, so you need to nail people young; you don't buy many fridges in a lifetime. Haier Leader wants that 20- to 30-year-old sweet spot, when the sun rises on getting "real" jobs and first independent living spaces.

Agency Serviceplan China worked with director Zhou Ning of Red Horse to connect the funky fridge to brave new lifestyles. Maybe it feels facile to use a breakup (and reunion) to illustrate the i-Case's merits, but it's the details that shout—so loudly that the piece is otherwise wordless. This means there are no barriers to understanding; all communication happens in accessible codes for the demographic.

It's a stylish amplification of familiar things: a sad but impulsive breakup, feelings still raw despite the coltish maturity in that stiff good-bye hug. The man's longing look says plenty as the woman strides through the apartment, scooping up her half of everything they own … including the salt shaker in a hugging set, her PS4 controller, a mug. 

Her half of the fridge comes last. She gives it an affectionate caress, a sharp zip of humor in this theater. That she takes it outside before the man arrives with his half and, hopefully, rejoins them, gives the story playful buoyancy. 

But it also illustrates how easily the i-Case accommodates lives in motion, almost like a rolling suitcase. It's designed for roots skimming the surface of the earth, flirting with displacement.

There's also a youthiness in the apartment that feels true. Crocheted pillows mix with furniture that brings Ikea or to mind; we've bought stuff like that, and decorated with odds and ends from flea markets and trinkety stores. Awkward-sized fabrics drape over furniture, and items lean against the wall instead of standing or hanging.

It's the kind of home you make when you don't have tons of experience making a home. These are people still learning how to adult. And if Gen Z is anything like its slightly older cohort, that learning will extend long through their thirties, maybe beyond.

So much has conspired to make us, overall, more modular—materialistic and bohemian, interested in nice things but unanchored from that old, unwavering vision of a pension, 2.5 kids, and the house with the white fence and two-car garage. Maybe we're a lot like the i-Case, in the end.

Zhao Ning deliberately chose a red and blue palette for this universe (what Serviceplan calls "post-modern Chinoiserie styling"), which complements the refrigerator's blue toning. A French soundtrack zips it up: Growing up with the internet means we are also a globalized culture, with people of similar age groups, educations and income levels sharing all kinds of codes for concepts, like libertine chic. A unifying language. 

"We always say, 'If you don't have a unique selling point, be the first,'" says Serviceplan China chief creative officer Chong Kin (last seen reminding us to leave our shoes outside the door). "But what if we have? Our TVC idea perfectly illustrates the USP in an interesting way, with an insightful young Chinese story. It's a wonderful execution for product demonstration."

The ad is running on Weibo and Wechat, as well as on local TV.


Agency: Serviceplan China
Worldwide Executive Creative Director: Jason Romeyko
Chief Creative Officer: Chong Kin
Group Creative Officer: Kan Wing Ho
Associate Creative Director: Wang Yifan
Art Director: Jason Liu & Charlie Wang
Copy: Lisa Liu & Mao Shanshan
Planning Director: Moritz Sanner
Associate Account Director: Schneider Shi
Senior Account Executive: Elena Liu
Production House: Red Horse
Director: Zhou Ning
Stylist: June Jiang
Composer: Smile Studio

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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