C&B Notes

Advertising on Mainland China

Jonathan Mak Long, a young design student who has gained recent acclaim thanks to simplistic designs honoring Steve Jobs and advertising Coke, discusses how advertising design may be changing on mainland China.  The article observes that a recent study found that the average Shanghai resident is exposed to three times as many ads on a typical day as someone in Britain.

What sells in China?  The answer may be poised for a change.  Advertising on the mainland has traditionally been about volume: loud, busy, and overwhelming.

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Any time people try to reach Chinese audiences, it means making some judgments.  For instance, say, are people getting more individualistic or do they remain more collective-minded?  Your thoughts?

There are certainly examples of ads that appeal to the typical Chinese “collective mindset” effectively — the Adidas campaign for the Beijing Olympics comes to mind (illustrations depicting athletes at the top of an enormous “wave” of enthusiastic Chinese supporters).  But an event like the Olympics naturally calls for a need to evoke national pride, regardless of the country.

Obviously, gone are the days when overtly Maoist messages run rampant in the country, but the idea of putting the party first is still rooted in many people’s hearts.  The country’s love for efficiency and scale is especially apparent in the advertising of property developers.  In terms of the visual tone, there is something oddly reminiscent of the Great Leap Forward in the way they Photoshop smiling construction workers on top of massive steel-framed buildings against a perfect sunny backdrop.