Can UK agencies really position themselves as China’s way into global brands?

Well the Institute of Practitioners in Advertisers (IPA) thinks so, announcing an ‘International Brand Incubator’ to help Chinese companies turn their big domestic brands into big global brands, one of the very few areas where China currently lags the Western business world.

To get the ball rolling IPA president, the hyperactive Nicola Mendelsohn from agency Karmarama, is squiring a bunch of UK agencies around China that includes ambitious indies like The Brooklyn Brothers and Addiction and WPP-owned RKCR/Y&R.

WPP already has a huge operation in China of course (as to varying degrees do its marcoms rivals) but the traffic is chiefly from Western companies wanting to expand in China rather than the other way round.

Mendelsohn told Ad Age: “We wanted to find a way that we could cement and make real the desire between the two countries to facilitate advertising services. When brands have enjoyed huge growth the question is, ‘What’s next?’ What’s next is going global. We’re suggesting the UK is a good place to go global from, that it’s a springboard.”

An ambitious target then but actually in line with what the UK has always been good at – in effect acting as a middleman between East and West. The UK’s time zone helps enormously of course as does its economic history, most recently in turning the City of London into a centre to rival and in some instances outstrip Wall Street in New York.

Before that we had Scottish financiers building huge banks (HSBC and Standard Chartered) in the Far East and also trading houses like Jardine Matheson and what is now Hutchison Whampoa, owner of the 3 mobile network.

Are UK planners and creatives up to the task of creating more Lenovos for Chinese owners (Lenovo had a leg up as it’s the old IBM PC business) as the IPA hopes?

With the energetic Ms Mendelsohn behind them with a sharp stick you never know.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.