– Olympic advertising was a strange beast. One wonders how people got so wrapped up in the event. When the party moves on to London how many brands will have left that all-important footprint in China? Very few, I’d suggest. The notion of “legacy marketing” somehow got forgotten in the excitement. Maybe it was one of the problems with being a sponsor – you were too connected with the games to see the big picture. Certainly those who weren’t major sponsors seem to have done better at the legacy thing. MasterCard’s excellent sponsorship of kids five-a-side football in Beijing, or Speedo’s swimming program for kids seem to me better long-term legacies that will be appreciated by a wider section of Chinese people than the simple repetition of those Olympic rings that most of the supposed ad agency “creatives” settled for.
– Jumping on the nationalism bandwagon also seems a bit short-termist. Ultimately, will China’s consumers respond well to foreign brands trying to hitch a ride on their heartfelt patriotism? I suspect not. Association with such visceral emotions only works when the brand is truly seen to put something back into the society it seeks to sell to. There is very little real connection between those brands leveraging the nationalist upsurge and the community. As such, I expect many consumers aren’t fooled and will award the brands the worst possible epithet imaginable: uncool.
– Supposed experts on China regularly tell me domestic consumers are all about show – that China is the arch “bling” society, where if you can’t see it, envy it and respect it, then it doesn’t exist. Maybe once – but times, and societies, move on. I was happy to hear that a friend looking to raise capital for an upscale lingerie business found investors aplenty after years of foreign consultants telling her the concept wouldn’t work. Marks & Spencer, those purveyors of knickers to the UK middle classes, will be feeling confident about opening on Shanghai’s Nanjing Road in October.
– Went down to see Shanghai International Port Group’s new and gleaming 130,000-square-meter international cruise terminal in Hongkou. A marvellous glass bubble on stilts to welcome passengers as Shanghai aims to relive its former glory days as a cruise ship destination. It’s due to open for business in August. Eventually, the whole area around the terminal should become an upscale leisure and commercial area. Seeing cruise ships moored once again upriver will be wonderful, and from the peek I got of the terminal, passengers will be arriving in style.
– A few very depressed lunches with garment manufacturers lately. While they’ve been hit with everything from rising wages, commodity prices, freight rates and energy bills, most of the Western brands are refusing to pay more as they can’t pass it on to recession-concerned shoppers in Europe and the US. With the government not that concerned about low-end manufacturing these days and Western brands unwilling to accept tha the “China Price” is rising, more than one manufacturer believes their days are numbered.
– Still, groups that Beijing is keen to keep on-side are being comforted. Most analysts agree that the price of petrol will rise again once the Olympic circus leaves town. For the moment, taxi drivers in most big cities are happy the government has stepped in and decided to subsidise their wages to the tune of just over US$70 a month – a fair chunk, in percentage terms, of their average take-home pay. But how many more times can the government afford to do this?
– Analysts and pundits have been caught out by the rise of the Chinese suburb. So now, with more white collars living the suburban dream and retail sales looking soft in downtown areas, the retail chains are moving out to meet them. And what is the buzz term for these new suburbanite families with the requisite one kid, small car and new apartment, I hear you ask? The “Hu-burbs.”