Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bib #13 Grey Worldwide "ASIA - a complex challenge." Grey Matter Issue Two 2006: 1-2

I got this periodical while waiting for my filmed interview with Paul Gardner today who is the Group Chairman of GREY Global Group in Australia and New Zealand. According to him the agency used to be an ad agency but now has expanded to a media communications group. Some it's clients are AXA Investments (Paul's baby according to him), Australia Post, Ambi Pur, BOSS Hugo Boss, Australian Conservation Foundation, Ribena, Pringles, TAC, Leggo's and others. I will write more on my interview with him today on my next entry.

For now I am going to focus on the article that appeared in Grey Worldwide periodical, Grey Matter.

I found the article titled "ASIA - a complex challenge" as been very relevant to my research topic. The article is mainly about the recent study conducted by Grey on the attitudes and values of Asian people with a view to effectively marketing and communicating in Asia. Grey has conducted 4600 interviews in 11 countries, namely Hong Kong (I am going there on the 1st of July!), China, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Korea and Japan. The findings reveal a great and complex place where western goods are welcome, but also a place that is becoming contemporary in its own way and will not accept the West unless it complements local cultures and traditions.

The article was also talking about how Asia is such a complex area and is not a homogenous region. Every Asian country has its own cultural traditions and these can not be disregarded for a Western fad. The region contains countries with vast and deeply engrained differences such as religious beliefs as varied as Buddhism, Catholicism and Islam. The article pointed out that one of the biggest mistakes from marketers is, being insensitive to these cultural, aesthetic and moral norms. Few examples such as in Thailand where they have a deep Buddhist tradition, some western commercials can seem brash, aggressive and hard sell. Likewise in India, advertising in commercials can seem overly suggestive and erotic, offending local sensitivities. Another good point in the article is that brands that can be highly tuned to cultural norms across the region certainly stand a better chance than those that are simply transporting western values.

The article talks about the laws affecting advertising and marketing in Asia which varies and are often very different let say for example Australia. In some cases the laws are inadequate and brands should be careful not to take advantage of these situations. One example is in India where there are no laws governing advertising which means children can be subjected to inappropriate communication for their age. One point on puffery in advertising that interest me is that, consumers in Asia pointed especially to medical, health care, diet products for typical over-claim. This is especially prevalent in Beijing and Shanghai where there is no laws on the prevention of over-claiming.

Relevancy to my topic: This periodical provides a thorough insight for my research on cross-cultural communication and my intention of developing a creative based translation-interpretation-cultural service as I have to look more carefully into issues regarding cultural, regional and communication sensitivities in Asia ESPECIALLY when Asia is not a homogenous region. I am now thinking of, instead of having a Chinese translator-interpreter representing China as a whole, I should look more into the different fragments of culture in China and have various translator-interpreter-creative mediators representing each of the many parts of China. That is my idea for now.

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