Tom Doctoroff
Tom Doctoroff

The roles of the typical white foreign experts in Chinese commercials might be shifting, as the country becomes more confident, but the market has not yet dried up. This kind of reassurance of quality is still needed, says ad expert Tom Doctoroff in PRI.


This kind of “expert” testimonial corresponds with a need for reassurance, said Tom Doctoroff, CEO for marketing firm J. Walter Thompson Asia Pacific, and author of the book “What Chinese Want.”

Chinese don’t assume the world outside is safe, Doctoroff says, so lesser-known local brands might use a foreign actor in a lab coat to project reliability and scientific advancement.

“You have people who are urbanized for the first time, owning apartments for the first time, who need household cleaning ingredients for the first time,” he says. “These are new consumers, and new consumers always need more explicit reassurance than more mature consumers.”

There are exceptions to this trend, but they’re mostly for luxury brands calling on Hollywood A-Listers like Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman to hawk their products.

“This type of advertising is extremely expensive to produce and it reinforces global stature, which is always very motivating for Chinese people,” Doctoroff said.

Foreign expert in action
Foreign expert in action

More in PRI.

Tom Doctoroff is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers´ request form.

Are you interested in more experts on luxury goods at the China Speakers Bureau? Do check out our latest list.


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