As part of the Edinburgh International Marketing Festival, due to take place next week, Tim Broadbent, global effectiveness director for Ogilvy & Mather China, will take to the stage to discuss the Asian Creativity Gap. Broadbent took a few minutes out to speak to The Drum about the differences between Asian marketing and the UK and opportunities available within the Asian market to UK marketers.
Can you tell us a little bit about the differences in that particular market at the moment, and why it would be of interest to UK marketers?
I think there might be some interest in marketers from the UK exploring the possibilities in Asia given the way the West seems to be stuck in low growth for the next five years. We think that there is a gap in Asia, and particularly in China, and that is in the field of creativity. That is something that we Brits are extraordinarily good at, but in Asian marketing, particularly in China there seems to be much less of it and given that we now know creativity is so important to marketing effectiveness that seems something that UK marketers may want to exploit.
Are there any vast differences, for example culturally that UK marketers would have to take into account moving into the Asian market?
The differences probably outweigh the similarities but, at root, people are people. We did an interesting piece of research in Asia where we took 30 Ogilvy campaigns ones which had won creative awards and effectiveness awards from all around the region, and we found that those worked in the exact same way as the creative and effective awards would in the IPA database, we have reason to believe that consumer respond to creativity in just the same way in Asia and it does increase marketing effectiveness. It’s just that Asian marketers are not fully exploiting.
So what are the opportunities that would draw UK marketers towards the Asian market?
High growth, it really is as simple as that. Even though China is being deliberately slowed down to cool the property bubble it’s still growing at seven-and-a-half per cent a year, UK growth is what? One or two per cent at the most, I’m in the US at the moment and they’re looking at one or two per cent at the most. So really any companies that want fast growth really need to be in Asia, and it’s not just China, of course. India is another huge market growth of up to six per cent a year and then you have the E11 countries, which include countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam which are experiencing explosive growth rates. So, Asia is the future, we believe.
What kind of changes are you experiencing within the Asian market at the moment?
[There is] Incredibly rapid change, I think people who live there are just awed by it. The whole concept of marketing is very new, of course, no one in China has 20 years’ experience, it’s just impossible so its learning very, very fast and adapting very fast but still has some way to go to reach the sophistication of the West.
What trends do you see emerging in the Asian market? And what platforms are popular for marketers?
It’s the biggest internet market in the world with around 600 million users, and many of those are connecting via mobile phones. So mobile phone marketing is probably as advanced in China as anywhere in the world, maybe more so, that’s huge. We’re also seeing growth in traditional media as well, for example, there aren’t that many movie theatres in China but they’re now growing at a rate of 20 new openings a week, very fast. Currently young people, in particularly, get nearly all of their media information from their computers, downloading movies and so on, TV shows, but being able to go out and see a movie in it whole spectacular glory that’s a new thing, and that’s fantastically popular. So it’s a mix of the new and the old growing side by side.
We kind of expect that China as it develops is not going to become a clone of the West. The old idea that history is dead and all countries become liberal democracies and they mature, we don’t believe that we think China is finding a new path. Just to give you an example when my wife and I arrived in China six years ago there was no high-speed rail links. Now there are more high-speed rails than in the whole of Europe put together. They’re opening 20 new airports a year, and more than 90 per cent of homes have high-speed broadband. So it’s going to be a new kind of economy linked by high-speed rail, and by broadband and by air and it’s going to grow in different ways from how the West has grown.
Do you think there are lesson for marketers in the UK to learn from the industry in Asia?
I think we can learn about different cultures, where China is often seen as mono-cultural, in fact, there are 50 minority groups and it’s a vast continental empire, and linking them all together finding the commonalities is enormously fascinating. Of course, China is just one country amongst Asia and the differences between India and China are vast and there are whole different regions in South East Asia. I think what UK marketers can learn from that is the importance of basic human emotions which seems to be consistent from country to country and culture to culture.
Broadbent will speak at Culture and Creativity, Elegance, Assembly George Square from 10am - 12:30pm.