I’ve been keeping an eagle’s eye out in the chaos and confusion of moving through Beijing for marketing impressions from Western Brands and comparing them to how Chinese brands represent themselves. To keep the discussion simple, I’ll first look at outdoor advertising and then in a second essay, look at online.
Outdoor advertising — and by this I mean bus shelters to buses, billboards to storefronts — really should be separated into nighttime and daytime effects. Nighttime is a battle of neon. Not a lot of it, saturated Vegas style, but islands of it that really stick out. Daytime is a war for space. The Baidaling Expressway, which runs north out of Beijing up to the Great Wall, has its share of billboards, but only once one gets inside of the fourth ring road (Beijing is defined by concentric circles of ring roads, like Washington D.C.’s Beltway). Then things get interesting. No Western brands appear until one gets into the heart of the city, and the most effective ones are actually building brands — IBM, Ericsson, Microsoft — which interestingly enough are not out in the main technology park in the Shandi district where Lenovo is based and one can see Western companies like Peoplesoft and Nordisk.
Once in the city proper, the advertising starts going nuts.
Here’s a few photos:
Then, one starts to notice some familiar brands, but still competing for attention:
And right around the corner ….
The situation in the stores is even more chaotic, according to my colleagues who visited a tech mall last night (which I need to do before the week is over.) Lots of machines competing for attention — like your average 42nd St. electronic store in NYC.
Bus shelters and sidewalk displays seem focused on mobile phones. Lots and lots of Lenovo impressions for our handheld business. This one is for a Lenovo PC.
And finally, my favorite impression of the day. From lunch:
Next up, online advertising for PCs in China. This is mindblowing stuff.