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As I’ve written previously, one thing I hate is how many agencies present Chinese society as one, all encompassing group.
Where they all think the same.
Where they all look the same.
Where they all want the same.
Frankly I don’t know whether this is because of laziness or convenience, but it’s wrong on almost every level.
Are there commonalities of opinion and needs across generations and geographies?
That’s the case anywhere – however just like Mum’s love their kids all over the World, how they express that and what they respond to can differ dramatically thanks to cultural, economic and societal conditioning.
However one thing that really bugs me is how people tend to judge Chinese society in relation to the West.
It seems to be either “… they’re strongly influenced by Western culture” or “… they don’t like Western culture”.
They treat is as if it’s that cut and dry and that utterly, utterly wrong.
Sure, there are things that influence culture.
Sure some of those have come from the West … as have some things that have been influenced by China, both old and new.
However in both cases, the initial influence is – contrary to popular belief, especially contrary to popular media belief – rarely executed literally, it is nurtured, mangled, evolved, shoved, shifted, pushed in a whole myriad of ways so that what comes out the other side, might be born from one place, but developed in another.
It’s not a clash of culture … it’s the birth of culture.
A new culture.
Being able to look beyond the surface is the key and yet I am amazed how many agencies fail to do this, preferring instead to say that it’s all about duplication or interpretation rather than appreciating the unique elements that are being created and executed … unique elements that can give great insight into what really is going on in people’s hearts and minds if only they are prepared to look for it.
A perfect example is this:
Sure, you could make some hypothesis based on what he’s saying and how he is saying it – but the really interesting stuff is when you take into account where he comes from – which is a Tier 3 city – a place that many people regard as nothing more than poor, isolated and lacking any sophistication.
Obviously this guy has money behind him – that video is something professionally and expensively pulled together – but even looking past the fact he is a ‘signed’ recording artist [albeit, an underground artist] … if you look at his background, his upbringing, his environment and then his current behaviour [admittedly via a video designed to 'entertain'], you can start seeing that a lot of what is currently being presented by adland is one dimensional, bland and lacking any understanding of how external factors [ie: China's unprecedented period of growth] are fundamentally changing what people feel is possible.
Whether that’s a good feeling or – as our BoomTown Stories experiment showed – a stressful feeling, is not the key issue, it’s the fact it’s influencing changes of behaviour, attitude and ambition and there is no standard, one-size-fits all response.
The state of societies mindset is all around us, but if we go about it with the attitude that we know it all or that ‘convenient answers’ are the right answers, then we’re not just going to make communication that is even less effective than it currently is, we’re going to fuck up what’s left of our industries relevance forever.
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