26 July 2006

China inspiring the world

Nick Barham (TBWA China) spoke today on inspiration in China and how it's going to help the country grow, probably surpassing the U.S. soon.

As per Nick's talk, part of the strength lies in China's pursuit of tangible material wealth + the sense of limitless possibilities. Because the 1960s and 1970s were somewhat of the Dark Ages in China, with no life and energy, the current swell of energy and optimism is immense and unstoppable now. Another cool thing about this is that the youth in China has no back catalogue of inspiration. So everything is new. There is curiosity. Hunger. Enthusiasm.

What does this mean for us? Because China is hungry for inspiration and they don't care where it comes from, they love brands. Brands are a visible sign that one is actively part of the new visionary, successful China.

The talk was a very interesting short lesson in global branding and the need for the best planners to be cognizant of the vast differences between cultures. Examples Nick gave included Apple and Nike. Apple's U.S. music strategy wouldn't really work in China - there is no mentality of collecting and hoarding songs, because they don't even have millions of songs to hoard yet. The legacy of famous inspirational athletes doesn't resonate with the Chinese youth, because "old is bad and new is good" - a reason for why Adidas might have an advantage over Nike in China.

There was so much optimism and energy about the topic of the Chinese youth; how they can help propel brands and the economy in the future was very inspiring in itself. It made me want to start looking into agencies in Shanghai or Hong Kong.

Nick closed with his favorite definition of inspiration : the act of inhaling, the drawing in of air... as in breathing. Inspiration shouldn't be a luxury, he said - you need to constantly breathing this stuff in. If you aren't constantly inspiring yourself, you'll die.
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