International airlines, ignoring Taiwan is part of China, according to China, were the latest to get into hot water with their marketing. But China’s sensitivities are nothing new, say Tom Doctoroff and Shaun Rein to OZY. It makes sense to let your China marketing vet by some China veterans, says both.
Most companies targeted appear to have tried to accommodate Chinese demands by apologizing and amending references to Taiwan, for example, to read “Taiwan, China.”
“There’s a lot of fear. Companies are all trying to figure out if anything they’ve done is wrong,” says Shaun Rein, founder of China Market Research Group, a Shanghai-based consultancy. “They are looking at their websites … not just their own but also their suppliers’,” he adds.
The White House waded into the dispute in early May, calling Beijing’s demands “Orwellian nonsense,” and stating that Beijing’s demands were “part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies.”…
Tom Doctoroff, a partner at Prophet, a U.S.-based marketing consultancy, says Beijing’s intervention has so far been just a “minor irritation” to multinationals. “China has always been extremely sensitive when it comes to its territorial integrity,” he says. Recent events underlined the importance of making sure that marketing and other materials were vetted by staff with knowledge of the Chinese market, Doctoroff adds. “China is a market with a completely different worldview from the West … it’s imperative that how you go to market is localized,” he says.
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