Everything is different in China. That’s what we’ve been told, and what we’ve learned, many times over during the first week of our trip.
So it was no surprise to me when Leo Burnett, one of the world’s premier creative agencies with clients like McDonald’s, P&G and Pfizer, threw us a curveball during our trip to their Shanghai offices.
After a thorough overview of consumer trends in China, including increased consumption and willingness to spend over the past decade, Leo Burnett Shanghai Managing Director Angie Wong presented a case study on a detox beverage. She explained the target consumer’s pain points, the customer benefit and showed creative they aired before explaining that the product was actually no longer on shelves. It was the first time I had seen a company lead a presentation with one of their failures.
Wong soon transitioned to another case study that better showcased how Leo Burnett thinks of creative in China. They put people at the center of their mindset and focus on transforming human behavior with their client's brands.
For a cold-brewed tea beverage, the agency created a cartoon character called "Xiao Ming" to help communicate the benefits of tea to younger consumers. They now launch new emojis every 3-4 months so consumers are consistently engaging with the face of their product. Additionally, Xiao Ming’s face was printed on each bottle and a year after launch, when the tea had proven successful, Leo Burnett invited consumers to participate by asking them to draw their own face through digital platforms to then be printed on their own bottle. In summary, Leo Burnett focuses on ACTS for their brands, not just ads.
Everything is different in China. And it forces marketers to be different as well.
"It takes someone who is open-minded to learning about the culture to be successful in marketing products,” Wong said.