The ad industry in China, much like the rest of the world, is experiencing a time of transition and change – new opportunities but, certainly, new challenges too. However, this week marks the beginning of the Year of the Pig – an animal that symbolises abundance and good fortune.
So where does Publicis China CCO Johan Vakidis think these opportunities lie? For one thing, there are huge socio-cultural shifts are also likely to inform the creative work coming out of China. One of the most interesting examples is the new launch film for Peppa Pig. The ubiquitous cartoon character has finally been given the go-ahead in China and a new viral short has been created to celebrate her Chinese New Year-themed movie, which will be distributed by Alibaba.
"An interesting thing that popped up this year, which might not be directly related to the industry is the short film about Peppa Pig,” he says, before explaining what the viral really signifies. “What is nice is it comes with a quite a few messages, one being an ad or a trailer for the upcoming film, but the other more interesting one is the metaphor for rapid urban development in the country. It’s a very nice twist at the right time of year. This has been a great big playing field for social media responses and quick strike posts.”
Looking to the year ahead, Johan also reckons that the real opportunities in the Chinese market also lie in shifting towards a more behaviourally-focused approach. “From a China perspective, one big trend that will continue is how we are forging a new communication economy and systems based on behaviour and needs,” he says. “New ecosystems will continue to build up based on this behaviour – and this will offer new outlets for creativity and innovation – such as what e-commerce has done in the past two years for example.”
In order to achieve this, though, he says that the industry needs to catch up – and function in a way that allows for fast-moving, local innovation. “I do hope that the agency and client model will adapt to this sooner than later allowing us all to fully push this new potential and opportunities rather than maintaining a more classic approach,” he suggests. “Let’s see, maybe we will see new models, systems and processes in place next year, that will allow for more hyper-local innovation in China.”