Doctoroff’s dualism a contradiction – a pig farmer I didn’t understand

asiamodule01There’s freedom within a framework, tells Tom Doctoroff us with forceful voice. Stability is good, the absolute good even, but everything can change. Harmony is the sublime end. Choose the midway and master the art of dealing with contradictions. ‘Doctoroff’s dualism’ of projection and protection shows us that he himself is still a western guy thinking in dualisms, to use such a simplification for something really complex. Advertising in general seems to aim for simplification of the complexity of life. Specially complex things such as Chinese societal differences. Advertising as we know it is an American, Western invention. Of course China is creating its own version.

The Chinese consumer is very different from the Western one. Western strategies would be useless here. The Chinese want two things, projection and protection. Protection meaning to stand out by showing wealth, coolness and prestige on the outside, but only external it can work. On the inside they still conform and are very much in touch with their Chinese identity. It’s an individual strongly connected to his national feelings. I’m great, China is great.

The Internet as communication tool works very well here. The need and assurance to feel safe and anonymous is perfect for the concept of the Internet in general. People can vent, they can hide behind avatars and say what they have to say for the first time in a long time.

Compelling to see the two videos showing completely different worlds or concepts of china, the one we are familiar with is the gloomy one and the new china one where people are modern and sophisticated. Does Shanghai represent the whole of China? Of course not. Even greater Shanghai is just a small area compared to the rest of the enormous land mass stretching all the way to the middle east. How do people live there? Watching TV can give you a more realistic view than looking through your Shanghai hotel window. Or not?

One program – of course I had no clue what they were talking about – showed a pig farmer in a rough and hilly rural area. You could see some old farmhouse buildings in a rather grey and muddy landscape, where the farmers didn’t really look all that prosperous – they looked rather like that first gloomy video Doctoroff showed us – but what they were also showing was the construction of a new pig yard with some sort of innovative way of raising concrete walls and expensive machinery. It showed how technology is changing people’s lives even in these remote areas.

So China is trying to change it’s image and with the image they are changing the people and, more specific towards advertising, the consumer. Doctodroff showed us the following methods, or are they other ways of seeing. What do the Chinese want? They want projection and Protection… and reassurance.

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Mr. Tom Doctoroff is the Greater China CEO for J. Walter Thompson and Asia Pacific. His lecture on Chinese marketing, advertising, and corporate culture was given during the Asian residency of the EMBA program at the Berlin School of Creative Leadership in Shanghai – May 2016. This is my personal view on what he talked about that day.