Agency Veterans Tom Doctoroff, Linda Kovarik, Victor Ng and Norman Tan Examine the Challenges in Developing Great Creative in China in the Second Episode of Thoughtful China
SHANGHAI, CHINA (May 31, 2011) -- China has evolved from an emerging market into an advertising powerhouse with some of the world's biggest ad budgets under the direction of seasoned executives. Despite intense market interest and big budgets, China is a small player at regional festivals like AdFest in Thailand and global events like the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.
"Just two Chinese agencies, TBWA and DDB, have won a coveted Gold Lion at Cannes to date, despite the massive interest and focus placed on this market by multinationals today," said Normandy Madden, the producer of Thoughtful China, an online advertising affairs show produced in Shanghai by Thoughtful Media Group.
In episode 102, "Creativity," industry experts attributed the mainland's low profile in at global festivals to cultural issues, a regulated, state-run media industry, high turnover within creative departments, and a lack of an understanding about the fundamentals of branding among junior agency executives and brand managers.
Chinese are "highly creative" as individuals, but there are "structural and cultural barriers that keep China from really pushing its weight on the global stage in terms of creative expression," said Tom Doctoroff, JWT's North Asia Area Director and Greater China CEO this week on Thoughtful China.
"There has been incremental progress [over the past ten years], but still there hasn't an inflection point [or] a corporate ethos that has celebrated creative breakthrough as a viable business tool," Mr. Doctoroff added. "What the industry needs are leaders, and there we have a desert."
During a panel discussion, Linda Kovarik, founder and head of strategy at Creative Sherpa, Victor Ng, exec creative director of DDB China Group and Norman Tan, chief creative officer, China at Lowe Worldwide, highlighted additional challenges, namely a lack of a willingness among both advertisers and agencies to take risks.
"Chinese are no less or more risky than westerners, they just need to have a very persuasive argument put in front of them," said Ms. Kovarik, Coca-Cola's former regional creative director for Asia. "There's not enough of that done."
Many advertisers in China take a "wait-and-see" approach and follow competitors across Asia, not just China, Mr. Ng said. The agency tries to overcome this by forming strong partnerships "with a common goal of creating a great piece of communication."
Will China become a leading player at festivals like Cannes? Not this year, but soon, said Mr. Tan. China is "definitely not" among the top ten ad markets in the world now, but it "is catching up really fast."
PT Black, Thoughtful Media Group's senior creative director in Shanghai and a regular guest on Thoughtful China, explains that China's state is focused on developing creative industries that are focused on making money, not indulging in self-expression.
Mr. Black also questions the willingness of some agencies to nurture and develop their creative talent: "What are agency leaders doing to encourage great creative work? Are they rewarding and finding great talent internally?"
Watch the show online at www.thoughtfulchina.com.
About Thoughtful China
Thoughtful China was created by Thoughtful Media Group to help define and shape a global conversation about a changing ad industry in the world's fastest-growing economy. Thoughtful China, an online weekly advertising affairs series produced by Normandy Madden, covers trends and news in Greater China's burgeoning media, marketing and advertising landscape. The ad industry's top global executives as well as local newsmakers and experts participate in comprehensive interviews and roundtable discussions about matters important to the entire industry. Thoughtful China is available at www.thoughtfulchina.com.
About Thoughtful Media Group
Thoughtful Media is based in Los Angeles, California, with offices in Shanghai and Tokyo, Japan. The company was recently institutionally capitalized to fully undertake the opportunities presenting throughout China and other emerging media markets around the world. The company was founded by CEO Jak Severson and CFO Dan Thorman.
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