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How to make sense of the changing creative brief in China

By Jospehine Pan |

January 12, 2022 | 5 min read

FCB Shanghai chief Josephine Pan offers advice on reaching distracted Chinese consumers in an evolving and fragmented media landscape.

China is always one of the ‘hustle and bustle’ markets, no matter what happens, with no one daring to slow down even one step.

New-age playbook for the evolving Chinese consumer

A new-age playbook is needed for the evolving Chinese consumer

The marketers never stopped their pace in pushing for the fastest and most cost-effective ways to showcase and sell brands and products. The platform of social e-commerce is still the key battlefield and has become more and more competitive.

The briefs have changed. We rarely now receive a brief instructing what assets are expected to be delivered. Instead, most of the time the ask is for a full communication ecosystem with a seamless combination of touchpoints and creative assets, advising on not just what the creative looks like but also what creative assets need.

The media environment and business models are changing fast and being led by the social media e-commerce platforms to an unprecedented level. The new skills that one may have learnt are probably out of date the next day. No longer are there any golden rules of marketing – instead it’s a race just to keep up.

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The only way for the creative business to maximize its value within these constraints is to let the creative ideas truly go into consumers’ lives, live alongside them and adapt as they change. These days consumers are so happy to get away from what they perceive as ‘advertising’ with seemingly more power of control on media exposure, but in fact consumers are being influenced, convinced and motivated on social media to make their purchase decision.

Creativity is everywhere, flowing through brand strategy, media strategy, content strategy – even a simple e-commerce product shot requires a comprehensive collaboration between different talents from all areas in the industry.

The e-commerce platforms and retailers are trying to turn almost every day into a shopping carnival by continuously enticing consumers’ shopping desires.

While consumers don’t believe in advertising, they believe in their friends – both real and virtual. That’s the ‘tricky’ insight based on social media creating so many ‘key opinion leaders’ (KOLs) to seed the brand and products in the life moments they share with their fans.

And it’s not just as simple as that. The ‘fragmented’ media behavior even gets developed into ‘powered’ media behavior, which is the term to describe consumers’ increased media behavior across different platforms and channels, piece by piece.

Consumers are exposed to a variety of information at the same time. Watching a TV drama, swiping on social media for interesting things, the next minute swiping on Taobao for shopping, and chatting with their friends all the while on WeChat. They can indulge in the apps on their mobile phone for hours and hours every day, with three or four apps open at the same time.

Which is one more reason why for our creative business, we are not just creating an impactful film, visual, headline or slogan anymore. The scope of work is enlarged with a higher expectation from marketers, helping them to live with the consumers in such a dynamic but also chaotic market situation.

Josephine Pan is the chief executive officer of FCB Shanghai.

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