Opportunities for Chinese businesses to grow and expand their businesses through British advertising knowledge were the focus of a keynote session at the first Shanghai International Advertising Festival (SHIAF) on 28 March.
Janet Hull OBE, Director of Marketing Strategy, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and James Murphy, CEO of advertising agency adam&eveDDB and Chairman of the Advertising Association, spoke to delegates on how China can learn from the UK advertising sector's knowledge and also where the UK can learn from Chinese expertise in the areas of mobile and digital e-commerce.
The launch of SHIAF marks an important for China's national advertising community and signals a new confidence in the domestic advertising industry and its presence on the global stage. The event, billed as China's equivalent of the Cannes Lions, featured a three-day business conference and five-day exhibition, along with a new Creative Award show.
The Chinese economy has grown impressively over recent decades and business links between China and the UK have strengthened enormously, with partnerships developing across all areas of the economy. The UK and China are both big advertising markets and are within the top 5 globally. China is second in the world for advertising dollars, the second biggest market overall, and growing so fast that it may soon overtake the USA. Fifteen brands from China are now in the Global Top 100 for brand value according to BrandZ.
Chinese brands are increasingly earning a large proportion of business revenue overseas, such as Lenovo at 72% and Huawei at 58%. Meanwhile, London is the world's leading hub for advertising services, with unmatched expertise in helping international businesses build successful brands.
Janet and James explained why they are excited about opportunities that exist for Chinese firms to grow their operations and shared case studies of how other international businesses have used UK advertising to succeed in new markets. While there is a desire among UK agencies to help brands from China go global using the UK as their global hub, the reverse is also true, as Chinese investors and Chinese agencies can help UK brands go global through China.
Janet and James highlighted that Huawei has located its marketing division in the UK to take its brand international, and Hylink has also set up its European headquarters in London - demonstrating that Chinese businesses still see the UK as a node for their international operations. They stated that advertising is a key reason for these decisions as London in turn is a magnet for world-class advertising talent coming from abroad to work and a hothouse for creativity.
They also demonstrated the similarities between the UK and Chinese markets, such as both being leaders in digital and mobile advertising, and showed the UK ability for creating brand stories that provide return on investment, with case examples from VW, John Lewis, the Paralympic Superhumans and IKEA.
Janet and James also showcased the importance the UK Government is putting on relations with China, referencing PM Theresa May's recent visit to China to meet with President Xi, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan's recent reception for the Chinese ambassador to London to celebrate the growth of Chinese businesses in London.
On SHIAF and Promote UK's contribution, Janet commented that "the Chinese economy is renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit and agility and we are keen for Chinese businesses to see how advertising can help them grow further. The UK's world-leading advertising sector stands ready to offer its support and expertise to any Chinese businesses wishing to expand on the global stage".
James Murphy responded similarly, noting that "the UK advertising sector is renowned for its unbeatable innovation and creativity. Combine this with China's entrepreneurial and go-getting attitude to business and I believe that we have a real recipe for commercial success. As the latest advertising export figures demonstrate, UK advertising is in demand worldwide and is the gold standard for global ad excellence and we are keen to work in partnership with Chinese businesses to reach their full potential".
Looking to the future, SHIAF will only grow as an event and it is hoped that Promote UK's presence there can be built on to further economic co-operation in advertising between the UK and China, as well as how we can assist in highlighting SHIAF to a UK and international audience. It is also an opportunity to promote understanding of China and its business and social values in the UK, so that advertising, trade, investment and cultural exchange between the UK and China continue to flourish in the future.