Zeenat Rasheed
Ruminations on marketing, digital, social and 2.0.
Made (By Way Of) China? A Global Brand Campaign
Categories: Global Marketing

Let me talk to you today about a product. I don’t know anything about how much it costs or why it is better than its competitor, but I do know that it was made in Switzerland. Hm. You may think that I’m speaking of a high precision watch, or gourmet chocolates perhaps? Let’s say the product was made in Italy. Your mind probably went towards images of glossy leather shoes or designer fashions.

Now let’s say that the product was made in China. What do you think now? Yes. Exactly.

In the global economy, the label “Made in China” has come to represent a number of negative qualities: low-cost, low-quality, copycat goods that are produced in mass quantities. Many of us may not know the names of or have opinions about actual Chinese brands, but as a country of origin, China has gained a notorious reputation. We may buy products that have “Made in China” on the label, but might not expect the product to last very long, or might cynically expect to someday hear that the product contains hazardous ingredients has been recalled.

The Chinese are entirely aware of this, and to combat these very perceptions, China recently launched the country’s first global brand campaign through a 30-second commercial, which has been airing on CNN (reportedly on U.S., International, Asia and Headline News) since the end of November. The ad was commissioned by China’s Ministry of Commerce and a number of trade associations and was produced by the Chinese arm of international advertising agency, DDB.

The 30-second spot shows Western actors interacting with a number of products boasting a “Made in China” label, but with a postscript. Running shoes have a tag that says “Made in China with American sports technology”; an MP3 player is labeled with “Made in China with software from Silicon Valley”; a commercial airplane is stamped with “Made in China with engineers from all over the world”. The spot ends with the tagline, “Made in China, Made with the World.”

Let’s discuss what this commercial does right. The strategic concept does hold water: after all, in a networked global economy, most products reach the shelves after having been through a highly fragmented and complex supply chain. The ad reminds audiences that although the label says “Made in China”, many other companies and people were involved in the production process. In fact, more than 50% of Chinese exports are “processing exports”, i.e. China becomes involved only in the final assembly and shipping phase of the production process. The label says “Made in China” but it should really say “By Way of China”.

From an execution perspective, the warm and fuzzy message of global partnership does get conveyed through the soft visuals and mellow voice of the narrator. Also, the ad does succeed in portraying China as a little bit more modern than we’re used to; not being subjected to images of the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and Mao is a little refreshing.

But the plus points end there.

The strategy to show the involvement of other countries may have been well-intentioned, but what the commercial essentially conveys is that for any given “Made in China” product, there were actually many more reliable non-Chinese cooks in kitchen watching over the process. By saying, “sure we made it, but Silicon Valley actually thought it up”, they are creating an unavoidable comparison between themselves and a platinum brand; instead of elevating the Chinese by association, the parallel damages their credibility as innovators and relegates them to mere manufacturers.

Another thing: even though the commercial is intended for a global audience, it speaks with a very Chinese voice. The phrase “American Sports Technology” means nothing to an American. The ad would be far more effective if we saw a runner lacing up a shoe that read “Made in China, with Reebok technology”; after all, Reebok represents something to the average consumer. Using generic representations of other nations as ingredients in your own nation branding doesn’t really work.

From an execution perspective, the ad fails in making the “Made in China” brand relatable. Chinese-made products are bought by people from every ethnic and income background, but the actors are all middle to upper-class Caucasians, reflecting a non-diverse (perhaps stereotyped?) mindset of Westerners. Also, the taglines suggest partnership with “French designers” and “engineers from all over the world” — where are these people? If China would like to prove that other nations and people are involved in the production process, why not actually show them, instead of simply the end consumer?

One way to also enhance the image of Chinese brands would be to also include… some Chinese brands. Why not show a businessman using a Lenovo laptop? Or people using China Mobile phones? This way, the generic “Made in China” identity benefits from being associated with individual successful Chinese brands, they gain more Western exposure, and everyone goes home happy.

This new commercial was not really reviewed by the national media here in the U.S, and seemed to have slipped by the marketing press entirely. Perhaps the Chinese don’t want to make a splash about it, seeing as the ad is being run only on one news network and news of campaign was only given to English-language channels in China, not the more important and influential Chinese networks. Perhaps this is just a project that a handful of bureaucrats were assigned to complete. But it still remains an intriguing case study in global marketing and perceptions of global consumer culture. For all the reasons that China is mentioned in the mainstream media, it would be nice to see some coverage on issues like this as well.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • FriendFeed
  • Google Buzz
  • MySpace
  • Delicious
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati Favorites
  • Tumblr
  • Digg
  • Share/Bookmark

This website uses IntenseDebate comments, but they are not currently loaded because either your browser doesn't support JavaScript, or they didn't load fast enough.

4,749 Comments to “Made (By Way Of) China? A Global Brand Campaign”

  1. Of course, what a splendid site and educative posts, I surely will bookmark your blog.Have an awsome day!

  2. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment

    didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.

    Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  3. Après not to mention that de trois mois nufactured manifestations et grèves étudiantes,louboutin solde,the gouvernement québecois an all in one déposé united nations projet nufactured loi visant à restreindre the droit nufactured manifester. Vous vivez au Québec,masque ski oakley, racontez-nous verse est according to?you the mouvement de grève au sein nufactured la population. Avez-vous été affecté par le mouvement ? La constraint du dr

  4. Le d’ s’av’e rrtre arrivé, vendredi 11 mai dans l’après-midi, au terme de sa quatrième semaine. Une éternité exhort ght Norvégiens. Une éternité enfin troublée par une réaction inattendue, désespérée, humaine, celle d’un homme pleurant little boy frère abattu. Un homme qui s’est levé soudainement et a jeté une chaussure en in any event de Breivik, assis à à peine cinq mètres de lui . Il a touché l

  5. My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different web address and thought I might

    as well check things out. I like what I see so

    now i am following you. Look forward to checking out your web page repeatedly.

  6. But it’s not at all on such basis as build quality it some of these separate goals produce going to be the same result; it appears to be among the most the truth as a long way as amount of interest rates are equal to learn more about nominal GDP improvement If rates are more advanced than nominal advancement,going to be the debt/GDP ratio keeps mountaineering could there are it has ever been larger coughing up reduces and tax increases. The administration will see amount of interest rates at 4%

  7. gjgh says:

    Hey I am so excited I found your website, I really found you by mistake, while I was browsing

    on Digg for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would

    just like to say thanks a lot for a remarkable post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have

    time to browse it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also included

    your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to

    read a great deal more, Please do keep up the excellent work.

  8. Currently it seems like Wordpress is the best blogging

    platform out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

  9. “Un véritable viol provoque rarement une grossesse.graphs Le candidat républicain au Sénat extort le Missouri, Todd Akin,a multi functional déclenché outre-Atlantique durante se livrant à une analyse médicale air pump le moins discutable des conséquences d’un viol sur le enterprises des femmes.Interrogé sur l’opportunité de légaliser l’avortement en cas d’agression sexuelle,Supra Skytop Chaussure Homme Blanc Vert Noir,?Todd Akin, qui an all

  10. Sobha Valley View Mysore Express way,Sobha Valley view,Sobha Valley view banashankari,Sobha Valley view Mysore Express Way

  11. Beulah says:

    I always used to study article in news papers but now as I am a

    user of web thus from now I am using net for articles

    or reviews, thanks to web.

    Feel free to surf to my site Frontline Commando 2 hack tool (Beulah)

  12. frtbb20140409radley bags sale frtbb20140409fp7-prometheus.eu frtbb20140409fp7-prometheus.e frtbb20140409radley bags sale frtbb20140409radley bags sale frtbb20140409timberland boat

  13. EXACTLY what makes children which of you perform it’s magic at senior high school and do very well on the life different back and forth from any of those who need to bother about certainly not It is this : a multi functional question that has been bothering James Heckman, an economist and Nobel laureate, whose thinking beeps allowing you to have an all in one a lot fewer decorated but take heart achingly fashionable political thinker, New York Times journalist David Brooks.Mr Heckman,which of yo

  14. Misery is because back and then in fashion,but take heart is this it any keep using?THE “misery index”is this : a multi function barbaric a financial measure that adds together an all in one nation’s jobless and inflation rate. In the last bride and groom of a long time for those times when deflation was known on such basis as a number of different online an all in one greater threat than inflation,Ray Ban Sunglasses Outlet,going to be the index was having to do with little value. But along with

  15. Hey there, You’ve done a fantastic job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this website.

  16. It’s an all in one difficult price too going to be the Chinese big brother,Birkenstock Odessa Sandals,which might very much in the way a little as though to learn more about continue supporting anyone who has investments,but which may be the case increasingly concerned about going to be the inflation concerning asset pockets.THE Chinese economy to be leading going to be the way on the town concerning recession. Third quarter output was 8.9% above going to be the level in the finally quarter rega

  17. It’s nearly impossible to find experienced people for this subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  18. adjusted 11 january 2006Closely woven garment with a fixed twill weave; Law hooking as the fibers will not full entirely up enough to counteract the fleece protector from raveling. it is also too ripped to make attractive loops. you will realize that wool crepe is also too lightweight plus flat and won’t change sufficient in the cleanup process to permit the fleece jacket to fatten way up. You doesn’t have to be an expert at identifying constellations to enjoy watching the night sky. Just pack u

  19. I’m not counselling bankers i got laid off from oneAnd screws. Maybe instead of a “few plastic junk” A manicure group. Some nail polish emery boards and nail polish eliminator. Next you’ve got to pull up all the carpeting,chanel riding boots. If you use extreme care you could probably reuse the carpet. Most times be more successful to completely replace the carpet after you have repaired the boat floor,louis vuitton wallet. So if you live in a more rural area like me where signals can be weak th

  20. What’s up, after reading this remarkable article i am as well glad to share my knowledge here with


  21. I would like to express my appreciation to you just for bailing

    me out of this particular condition. Right after researching

    throughout the world-wide-web and coming across ways which are not powerful, I figured my entire life was done.

    Existing devoid of the answers to the issues you have fixed through this website is a serious

    case, and the ones that could have in a wrong

    way affected my career if I had not encountered your site. Your personal capability and kindness in taking care of all areas was

    tremendous. I’m not sure what I would have done if I had not come upon such

    a step like this. It’s possible to at this moment look ahead to my future.

    Thanks a lot so much for this expert and results-oriented guide.

    I will not be reluctant to suggest your web site to

    anyone who requires direction on this subject


  22. When mangers have carefully essentially their own company’s CSR — sustainability agenda; they are in addition to the placed for you to use governments ‘ NGOs all around the tackling societal issues, particularly any sexual affair that interfere with business’ ability for additional details on create wealth in opportunity spell the part of the world That may not be only being that they are”in line with the a resource box is the reason that in line with the exchange.Wouter ScheepensTriple Value T

  23. Domenico MoroRomeSIR as tall as According to learn more about in addition to your on rising fda prices,oakley frogskins,any one of these one increase is always that an all in one once-in-a-generation chance to learn more about narrow income disparities back and forth home town and country side,chaussures timberland,on such basis as helping in the context of farmers to raise their revenue I think that this is that often ach and every unlikely to learn more about happen,given that on many developi

  24. A person essentially lend a hand to make critically articles I would state. This is the first time I frequented your website page and so far? I amazed with the analysis you made to create this particular post incredible. Great process!

  25. You need to be a part of a contest for one of the greatest sites on the web. I most certainly will highly recommend this web site!

  26. assulfelf says:

    louis vuitton outlet reviews cheap louis vuitton uk louis vuitton outlet store online uk cheap louis vuitton handbags louis vuitton factory outlet louis vuitton store in paris louis vuitton factory outlet locations louis vuitton london louis vuitton bags replica ghd hair education australia ghd norwich flat iron ghd spare cable ghd australia warehouse flat iron louis vuitton outlet reviews louis vuitton purses uk louis vuitton outlet online store usa louis vuitton bags prices louis vuitton sale uk loui vuitton belt ghd cables uk ghd power cable ghd outlet cheap louis vuitton louis vuitton bags prices louis vuitton outlet store locations in georgia ghd pty limited my ghd flat iron just stopped working ghd outlet sale

  27. Hey there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 3gs!

    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!

    Carry on the fantastic work!

  28. assulfelf says:

    ghd bunbury ghd samples cheap ghd outlet cheap louis vuitton handbags louis vuitton factory codes louis vuitton official website uk louis vuitton uk outlet louis vuitton monogram louis vuitton store hours louis vuitton outlet online louis vuitton outlet london louis vuitton online outlet uk louis vuitton uk online louis vuitton backpack louis vuitton outlet online clearance louis vuitton purses outlet louis vuitton mall outlet louis vuitton wallet louis vuitton wallets cheap louis vuitton bags uk louis vuitton handbags cheap cheap louis vuitton outlet louis vuitton travel bag louis vuitton store in paris ghd mk iv straighteners ghd sydney office ghd sale ghd travel roll bag ghd australia vlajka hair curlers

  29. assulfelf says:

    louis vuitton uk online louis vuitton handbags uk louis vuitton online store uk cheap ghd irons ghd australia bdm ghd outlet australia louis vuitton bags for sale in uk louis vuitton travel bag louis vuitton handbags prices ghd root lift spray ghd gold styler ghd hair straightener australia ghd stockists northampton ghd australia episodes cheap ghd outlet louis vuitton outlet reviews louis vuitton mall outlet louis vuitton outlet store location nj ghd online store best price ghd hair dryer straighteners louis vuitton travel bag louis vuitton sale outlet louis vuitton official website hong kong louis vuitton fashion louis vuitton sale uk louis vuitton outlet store locations canada louis vuitton bags uk louis vuitton purses louis vuitton online store

  30. to sprawdzic says:

    Hi! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to

    give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your blog posts.

    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics?


  31. agirustaisa says:

    弊店は今人気ブランドUGG ブーツ,UGG Australia ブーツ,UGG 靴,UGG ブーツ アウトレット,UGG ブーツ 正規品,UGG ベイリーボタン,アグ アウトレット,アグ ブーツ,アグ オーストラリア ブーツ などをビッグセール中!

  32. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the structure of your website?

    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.

    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.

    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or

    2 images. Maybe you could space it out better?

Leave a Reply