A great little print campaign for Inalfa Car Sunroofs. Very bold.
Credit to: JWT (Shanghai Branch)
The video above entitled ‘For Love’ (为爱 – Wèi ài) was released online this month by Crystal CG. It’s an animation that resembles the great battle between the fast food giants KFC and McDonald’s as they fight to dominate China.
The history of KFC and McDonald’s in China
A logical place to start is the beginning. You may be surprised to know that it was KFC or as the Chinese call it Kěn Dé Jī (肯德基) who first entered China. Thursday 12th November, 1987 was the day when KFC opened its first restaurant in Beijing (shown in the image below).
McDonald’s aka Mài dāng láo (麦当劳) on the other hand, did not enter the Chinese market until 1990. Thus KFC had a 3 year head start.
The reason why KFC entered China before McDonald’s was because each produced differing research results of Chinese consumers. McDonald’s research said that the Chinese were very stubborn and were unlikely to take to McDonald’s products.
KFC on the other hand found quite the contrary, their research said the Chinese will love the ‘xīfāng de kuàicān’ (西方的快餐) which translates in English to ‘Western fast food’!
What happened next?
Well, at first, the restaurants sat peacefully side-by-side with KFC selling chicken and McDonald’s selling hamburgers – that was that. However, things soon turned ugly.
McDonald’s was not satisfied with being second to KFC in China, so they started selling chicken wings too and so battle begun. In 1999, a full scale price war broke out between the two, but come 2004 despite McDonald’s attacks KFC‘s market share was 25% greater.
Why was KFC coming out on top?
The answer is simple. KFC understood and catered to the Chinese people far better.
Of course chicken was already a popular part of many meals in China but KFC did more than offer a new take on how to cook chicken, they adapted their whole product range to meet Chinese needs but more importantly their local needs. That’s right, province to province, and this gave KFC the edge over its rival as McDonald’s stuck firmly with its Western style.
Cue the McDonald’s fight back
In 2003, the McDonald’s slogan became ‘I’m lovin’ it’ and the importance the restaurant chain placed on the Chinese market was demonstrated in the advert they created which featured American singer / actor Leehom Wang (Wáng Lìhóng – 王力宏):
As well as this Maccy D’s began to open 24 hour branches, KFC quickly adapted an began to offer match the offering. The battle between the two was becoming fiercer and fiercer. The next plan of attack came in the form of McDonald’s drive-thru restaurants and these gave the big M chain a slight but key advantage.
What does the future hold?
KFC is still outdoing McDonald’s and the chain is further catering greatly to the local Chinese markets as their recent ‘rice bowl’ ( ad campaign shows. However, McDonald’s are not giving up and their plans for next few years will certainly keep Colonel Harland Sander’s chain on its toes.
In fact McDonald’s has just kicked off its 20th anniversary celebrations in China with a lovely social media campaign on Douban.com
It seems the battle for China has really only just begun…
Japan, Korea and other countries in Asia have been using foreign celebrities to promote their products for a number of years. Yet, a recent press release from the Associated Press stated that foreign celebrity endorsement will now become an integral part of Chinese brand strategies as they try to establish themselves in their domestic and international markets.
This turn of strategy is likely to have come about as Chinese consumers now find themselves bombarded with, much like their Western counterparts, advertising everyday. It is quite incredible considering that 20 years ago the Chinese advertising industry barely existed.
The country is developing rapidly in certain regions and this has been reflected in the nation’s advertising spend on TV, radio, newspapers and magazines which grew 14 percent last year to 597 billion RMB (around £5.4billion) – a truly colossal sum.
On my first visit to China I spent much of my time in Anhui Province (central China) and it was not until after a few months later that I visited Shanghai. I found the difference between Chinese people outside Shanghai and those living within the city was quite striking. The citizens of Shanghai are like ‘Westerners’; the way they walk, the clothes they wear, the food they eat, and the technology they use is so different to the majority of Chinese people living elsewhere.
A recent survey of 15,000 Chinese consumers by McKinsey & Co. found that Chinese consumers are now “extremely brand conscious.” They demand the same things that any other consumer living in a developed country would.
These demands have arisen quickly, but advertising in China is still catching up – many people forget that China is still a developing country. In the US and UK brands have to be extremely innovative now to break through the advertising smog, but in China advertising is still relatively new and celebrity (particularly foreign) endorsement strategies currently have much greater effectiveness than they would in the western hemisphere.
To that end here are some examples of celebrity endorsements in China to date:
Swedish Vodka brand Absolut has this month produced 350,000 limited edition bottles solely for the Chinese market. The limited edition range is branded as Absolut 72变. The Chinese character ‘ 变‘ is written in pinyin as ‘Biàn’, which translates in English to mean ‘Transformations’ or ‘Changes’.
Why ‘72 Transformations’?
The name is a reference to the Chinese novel Journey to West, further details about the famous book can be found in one my previous posts here. Absolut has dedicated the designs / title of it’s range around arguably the most famous character in the novel – Sun Wukong (孫悟空) – aka The Monkey King.
The print ads
Before I get on to explaining the significance of The Monkey King, we will get onto looking at the bottle designs and their advertisements (below). Absolut wanted to ensure that the bottles had a true feel of China and innovation, so they hired two local Chinese creatives — the artist Gāo Yǔ (高瑀) and photographer Chén Màn (陈曼). Gāo designed the bottles and Chén created the associated photography. The results of their collaboration are stunning:
Who is Sun Wukong?
He is the first character that readers come across in the novel Journey to the West . He was born out of a mystical stone which gave him immense powers including super speed and incredible strength.
Yet his greatest power came in his ability to perform 72 transformations. He could change himself into everyday objects as well as people themselves.
For many years he was happy ruling the monkeys who lived on his home mountain. However, Sun quickly realised that despite all his powers he was still only mortal so he went up to Heaven to seek immortality — but was refused. So he started a war with the gods and caused havoc in the heavenly kingdom.
It was only when Buddha stepped in that the Monkey King was impeded. Buddha imprisoned him under a mountain. 500 years later a monk was sent to travel from China to India to collect the holy Buddhist scriptutres, he took Monkey out of Buddha’s imprisonment and made him his disciple and the tales they have travelling together form the basis of Journey to the West.
Why do so many brands utilise Sun Wukong?
Sun Wukong has become much more than just a character in a book. He is a hero to many Chinese citizens, and he is embedded deep into Chinese culture of past and present. Chairman Máo Zédōng (毛泽东) referred to the Monkey when he promised to bring China out of poverty. There is a even Chinese festival to celebrate him.
For those of you in the UK, you may remember the Monkey as part of the BBC‘s Beijing 2008 Olympics coverage:
Sun Wukong is a national symbol of Chinese people and their values, which is why so many western and domestic brands utilise him as a tool to communicate messages to the country’s consumers.
For some reason this ad makes me smile…
The commercial promotes COFCO’s (The largest food manufacturer, processor and trader in China) drink brand ‘Lohas‘.
The girl in the advertisement is the famous Taiwanese model and actress Lin Chi-Ling (林志玲). It’s not the most inspiring or original ad that I’ve seen of late, but it certainly cheered me up after a long day at work.
Credit to: JWT (Beijing Branch)
Air China or as the Chinese say ‘中国 国际 航空 公司‘ (Zhōngguó guójì hángkōng gōngsī) literally translating to ‘China International Airlines Company‘ is the country’s second largest airline.
The state run organisation has just launched a new TV ad campaign to promote the message ‘无论你是谁，来者都是客‘ (Wúlùn nǐ shì shuí, lái zhě dōu shì kè) which in English roughly means ‘All customers are distinguished guests, no matter who you are‘.
The ad itself is actually quite amusing, it uses the journey of a teddy bear to demonstrate the wonderful service customers receive throughout their whole experience with the airline. The ad is also designed to demonstrate that Air China is a modern and international brand:
The new commercial will broadcast on International flights on-board televisions, airport check-ins, Air China ticket sale offices, and Phoenix Satellite TV in Europe and the USA.
Chinese netizen reactions from Youku (aka China’s answer to YouTube) show much appreciation for the ad’s cuteness but also the background music — I am sorry to say that I am not a fan of the latter.
Credit to: Ogilvy & Mather (Beijing Branch)
Yes, it’s yet another car commercial. I apologise for a lack of diversity in recent posts, hopefully I will get my hands on some advertising from other sectors soon.
Nevertheless, BMW have just released a new advertisement promoting a special version of the BMW 5 Series Li for specifically for the Chinese Market. The main difference between this 5 series and those you will find in Europe and the USA is that it has an extra long wheelbase.
The ‘Li’ was launched on August 5th 2010 and prices range from 489,600RMB to 791,600RMB (£45,500 – £73,700). The tagline for the new model is 路有多远，只有心知道 (Lù yǒu duō yuǎn, zhǐyǒu xīn zhīdào) which in essence translates to ‘How long the road, only the heart knows‘. Here’s the ad:
Three print ads (as shown) below promoting the new model were also produced as part of ‘The Joy of BMW‘ campaign.
Credit to: Leo Burnett (China)
Have you ever wondered what happened to the mighty and British Rover car brand?
Well here’s a quick history lesson for you. Instead of going all the way back to Rover’s origins in 1878, we will begin in 2005 – the year when MG Rover was declared insolvent. After which in 2006, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), who actually held the intellectual property for the Rover 75 car design and was in the bidding for MG Rover brand, announced their own version of the Rover 75, which they called the ‘750‘.
In the summer of 2006, SAIC then announced their intent to buy the Rover brand name from BMW, who still owned the rights to the Rover marque. However, BMW refused their request, due to an agreement with Ford which gave the latter firm control of the brand. Unable to use the Rover name, SAIC created their own brand with a similar name and badge (pictured above), known as Roewe (荣威) or in pinyin ‘Róng wēi’ pronounced Rone-way in English.
Roewe launched in 2007. Many westerners assuming that it was just another Chinese copycat brand, when in fact it was entirely legitimate.
Now in 2010, Roewe are producing cars left,right and centre. Most recently the organisation has produced the Roewe 350 (shown above) and below are three advertisements to promote their latest model. Two of the adverts are in English too so no need for the usual translation / lengthy explanations…phew.
So sit back and enjoy.
Credit to: THINK Advertising Agency (China)