Foreign Advertising in China: Becoming Global, Becoming Local

Article excerpt

* Wang, Jian. (2000). Foreign Advertising in China: Becoming Global, Becoming Local. Ames: Iowa State University Press. 164 pp. Hardback, $52.95.

Global marketers have long been intrigued by the prospect of making one sale to every citizen of China. Yet Chinese culture and history, complex and unpredictable levels of regulation, and varied levels of sophistication among consumers all serve as important considerations - and often as complications - in developing advertising. The intrigue can be further shrouded by a general lack of understanding about the complexities of China and its varied marketplace.

In this volume, Wang provides a comprehensive analysis of these issues. The tightly focused book considers the role of advertising in China by examining the history of advertising in China, burgeoning levels of consumption, and government regulations and limitations on foreign advertising. Also included is a case study of a multinational advertising agency in Beijing that provides a helpful view from the inside.

Wang quotes the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's phrase "crossing the river by feeling the stone" to describe multinational ad agencies in China. In fact, the phrase seems appropriate for describing advertising itself. In discussing what he calls "global advertising, Chinese style," Wang notes that Western advertising "defines the standard of ad quality for not only Chinese consumers but Chinese advertising professionals." What is unclear is whether the local Chinese advertising industry "will absorb, adapt or reject Western advertising practices and content, and whether a characteristically Chinese approach to advertising will evolve" (p. …