The British Advertising Industry Heads To China

Advertising Works UK China 2011

Since 2009, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) – the UK’s trade body and professional institute for the UK’s leading advertising, media, and marketing communication agencies – has run a series of UK events with the Chinese business community and taken part in trade missions to China to build relationships with Chinese brands and the country’s advertising industry.

IPA logoThe UK advertising industry punches well above its weight globally. It’s the fifth largest market for advertising in the world (after the USA, China, Japan and Germany) despite being 22nd in population size. The UK is consistently in the top two most-awarded countries for creative awards and the IPA’s ‘Effectiveness Awards‘ are considered to be the most rigorous.

Janet Hull, IPA Marketing DirectorNext week from the 22nd – 27th September, the IPA is undertaking its third mission to Beijing and the China International Advertising Festival in Shenyang. It will be led by IPA President, Nicola Mendelsohn, and is designed to promote the UK as a creative and innovation hub to the world. A number of UK advertising agencies will be taking part including: Addiction Worldwide, Bray Leino, The Brooklyn Brothers, Karmarama, MBA and RKCR/Y&R. The IPA’s Director of Marketing and Reputation Management, Janet Hull, spoke to chinaSMACK about the forthcoming trip to China:


Hi Janet, welcome to chinaSMACK, firstly why does the IPA want to be involved with China’s Advertising Industry?

It’s dynamic, it’s the other side of the world, a lot of our colleagues are being attracted to go there. It’s the future. We want to be part of it. Where we already have links, we want to strengthen them. Where we don’t, we want to create them.


In what ways can the UK advertising industry help its Chinese equivalent?

Insight, professionalism, access are the three things the IPA can offer. We’re a multi-cultural country with a pioneering history.

The IPA Effectiveness Awards are the most rigorous in the world; we’ve been running them for 30 years. We have a lot of learning about brands and how to invest behind them to get results that we hope to be able to share.

Great British Advertising: Collett Dickenson Pearce’s – Hovis TV Ad (1974)


What are the objectives of this year’s visit? How will they be achieved?

To look, listen, learn. Participate and interact. Assert our credentials. Leave our calling cards. Sow the seeds of creative partnership. Position the UK as a creative and innovation hub.


Have you learnt any Mandarin or Chinese business culture ahead of your visit?

Of course. We’re fascinated by China and have spent time reading up on culture, business and government. For this latest mission, we have held several briefings on how to do business in China; our marketing manager has been taking lessons in Mandarin; one of our delegates has a First Class degree in Chinese Studies from Cambridge University while another one is bringing a Chinese colleague with him. We want to immerse ourselves in the culture, not act like ‘little Englanders’.


How will the IPA promote UK’s ad industry to Chinese equivalents?

We’re taking part, for the first time, in China’s International Advertising Festival. We recce’d it two years ago in Nanning and we’re delighted to be participating in a number of events at this year’s festival.

china international advertising festival
We’re meeting with Effies winners; holding a seminar on the value of branding; showcasing an Effectiveness Awards exhibition; we have two members presenting at the International Creative Forum: IPA President, Nicola Mendelsohn speaking on ‘Creative Pioneers’ and RCKR/Y&R Strategy Director, Alice Huntley speaking on ‘Creativity and Effectiveness’. It will be a busy time!

While we are in Beijing, we’re meeting up with 180 China at their office and hosting a cocktail reception for some independent Chinese agencies at our hotel. Several IPA member agencies are independents and looking for partnerships with Chinese agencies.


What did the IPA learn from last year’s visit?

The power of relationships and the need to build mutual understanding and trust. We were surprised how easily we could get on despite our language differences. We both have a natural reserve on the surface, but a deep sense of humour underneath.

Rory Sutherland was part of the IPA’s last trip to China
Rory Sutherland speaking at Creative Workshop


What do you think the biggest challenges are for Chinese brands?

To understand how to differentiate, rather than to imitate. The world is waiting for Chinese brands. We want them to help them succeed.

Chinese brand Li-Ning breaking into America (Watch on Youku)


What is your opinion of Chinese advertising? 

It’s in its early stages. More immediate, perhaps, but also more superficial. More reliance on celebrity linked to promotion. There’s lots more room for big brand ideas and creativity that draws an emotional response.


Where’s the best place to see the IPA delegation in action during the visit?

At the China International Advertising Festival in Shenyang or at the bar of The Opposite House in Beijing!


What are you most looking forward to on the trip this year?

The variety. From an embassy reception to a retail safari to factory and design centre tours. We’re looking forward to finding out more about how Chinese people tick and how business is done. And who knows, we may not go home empty handed.


How important will it be for UK agencies to understand China, its brand and its consumers?

Very important. We think we have a lot to learn from each other, and together we can forge a great future. That’s why we’re here.

Thank you Janet and xiè xiè.

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  • Anon

    How dare you mock China with the poppy logo. The Opium Wars are fresh on mind, and have not had reparations by the English to Chinese yet. I do however advocate organics drugs bars as a democratic freedom EVEN in England and China itself.

    • David

      Fresh in mind? 1860 is fresh in mind to you? I hope you are joking.

      Get your head out of the past and into the present, or, god forbid, even the future.

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