In the time it takes you to read this sentence, four babies will have been born in China. Two migrants will have arrived in the city from the countryside. 30 people will have become connected to the internet. More than 6000 updates will have been posted to Sina Weibo, and 21,000 videos will have been uploaded to Tudou.
It’s all change!
Well, not quite.
There are plenty of things that aren’t changing in China. For all that digital technology has done to change Chinese society and the way people relate to each other, the fundamentals of Chinese culture – collective memory, language, ways of thinking – are remarkably enduring. Modernity is moderated by tradition. Ambition is balanced by duty. And individuality is still subject to the obligations of community.
We’ve titled this paper ‘The Power of Uncertainty’ because there’s a huge opportunity in China for brands that help people to make sense of tensions between competing aspirations and responsibilities.
Much of Ogilvy’s strategy work in China is based on understanding and working with these tensions. In the age of mobile social media, a brand can benefit from starting a conversation that challenges accepted truths. It used to be that brands gave people an answer. Now they’re in the business of being seen to ask the right questions at the right time, and setting the discussion free.
The four digital case studies introduced in this paper make it clear that in a country where so much is changing so quickly, the best campaigns don’t just focus on what’s new, but understand how novelty sparks off against culture and tradition.
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