World leaders will visit this week Beijing for the APEC-meeting. That would have been an ideal moment for some China branding, says branding specialist Tom Doctoroff. But he fears China branding is not on the political agenda of the leadership, he tells the Globe&Mail.
The Communist Party is a top-down structure with little interest in consumer persuasion. “There’s no real unified point of view of what the China brand is. What China feels very powerfully about is projecting its power, so that nobody takes advantage of it,” said Tom Doctoroff, Asia CEO for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. He recently authored Twitter is Not a Strategy, which examines how to build brands.
For a domestic audience, APEC serves that goal particularly well: As Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin arrive, state media will be filled with images of world leaders coming to China, creating an image of Chinese authority.
But Mr. Doctoroff holds little hope that China will successfully use APEC to alter many outside opinions. The country’s leadership simply isn’t wired to seize these sorts of opportunities, he said. “Every country should control the image that it has abroad,” he said. “And there’s a lot to work with in China. But it’s never going to happen.”
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