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So today I presented at the wonderful Mumbrella360 conference.
My presentation was about working in China and both attacking the [negative] myths about the place as well as celebrating the amazing things you do.
In essence it was about the tension between frustration and awesomeness which is why I entitled it: ‘You Don’t Have To Be A Sadomasochist To Work In China, But It Helps’.
Amazingly – given the amount of little digs about Australia’s prejudice and arrogance towards Asian advertising that littered the presentation – it seemed to have gone down quite well, but that could also be because they thought that by not asking many questions, it means I’d leave their island more quickly.
Anyway, for anyone who is interested [read: no one] I have attached it below.
In typical ‘Campbell style’, it’s my usual random picture + ambiguous statement approach which means that unless you were there, it will make even less sense than if you were there.
In addition, I have removed the 2 video case studies [Converse & NIKE] that appeared in the television sets on slides 58 and 68 … though the good news [if you can call it that] is that I’ve hardly recycled any of my old presentations in this and you get to see a bunch of new random pictures + ambiguous statements.
But obviously, you’ll also see some of my old favourites.
Anyway, here it is. There’s a brief debrief on what the hell I’m trying to say, below.
Slides 1-7: Just setting the context of my chat. I’m not Asian, or Australian. I won’t be talking specifically about W+K, nor will I tell you a bunch of ‘facts’ about China that every bastard on the planet knows [it’s big, has lots of people, they have a lot of money and get turned on by luxury brands] … but I will be rambling aimlessly like delusional, self appointed Aussie social commentator, Alan Jones.
Slides 8-29: These slides talk about what I found when I full-time moved to Asia in 2005 … the different frame-of-reference for marketing between Australians and Asians … the shift that occurred in 2008 when digital reached a critical mass in China and how it affected how the post-90’s generation started to communicate with it.
It also talks about the 3 fundamental cultural and contextual differences that wholeheartedly influence how Chinese youth behave [especially in terms of how they use the net] and that this manifests itself into them living in the ‘grey area’ between ‘being seen to live by societal expectations’ and achieving personal fulfillment … which is obviously very different to how many in the West live, which is almost self-contained, double lives – free from the worry of being constantly watched by Government and society.
In essence, this is setting up the view that if you take China on face value, you lose but if you understand the complexities and hypocrisies [ie: how they live in the ‘grey’] you find what’s really going on in their hearts, minds and soul.
Slides 31-46: These talk about how a lot of technology has been ‘repurposed’ by Chinese youth so that they appear to be acting in the manner that they are expected to live, but actually are using it to fulfill their personal wants and desires. Of which one example is getting laid. And the other is wanting a long term relationship.
To be honest, the fact people go on a messenger app in the hope of finding love or a shag is quite sad and reflects the conflict and issues many Chinese youth feel they can’t discuss in everyday life. Which, to be fair, is probably like the average teenager in Sussex.
And yes, that is my wife on slide 38. The reason I show her is because the following pages present a number of Chinese women looking for love & sex and I want people to know that she was perfectly aware what I was doing while doing the ‘research’ for this section of the presentation.
For the record, the reason I only show women is because there were few men on the site who were so blatant in their photography or request for love or sex. That said, when I did speak to some of the ladies, they did say there was an awful lot of men who replied to a request for a photo with a picture of their penis … so please don’t think I am taking sides, a lot of men were totally pathetic.
Slides 47-59: This section explains that for all the confidence and exuberance this Post-90’s generation appear to have, they are actually a generation that are instilled with the traditional values of China – especially group acceptance. It also talks about what you have to do to create behaviour change [using our ‘Love Noise’ Converse work as an example] and how the key is about creating and validating a new frame of reference for them, rather than trying to do it through advertising.
[PLEASE NOTE: In the presentation, the TV that appears on slide 58 actually shows a video, so even though it say’s ‘The End’ in this version, please don’t think I am suggesting the role of television is over because that’s absolutely not the case – especially in China – it is simply how the slide appears without the video file embedded in it]
Slides 60-69: This is about breaking down the myth that people in China only care about luxury. While there is a lot of people that do – the reality is it’s less about price point and more about the social value at that particular time.
It also explains how this social value can be gained by pushing – in the appropriate way – social and cultural values and I use our NIKE China Olympic campaign – ‘Greatness’ – to demonstrate this … a campaign that apparently is China’s most successful social media campaign of all time.
[You can see some of the user generated content on slide 67]
Slide 70: Is my wrap up, which is basically  Respect the culture  Continually experiment and investigate [which I sum up by stealing Northern’s awesome phrase, “Play in the jungle, not in the zoo”] and  Stop judging before you’ve tried it.
Slide 71: Just reminds people that there are a minimum of 3 sides to most Chinese societies attitude and behavior – their personal/private, peer and public/society sides – and unless you explore and investigate all 3, you’re never going to get close to understanding what’s really going on in their hearts and minds.
In short, forget thinking life is black & white and start embracing the maddeningly frustrating and revealing, grey.
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