Made in China – what gives?

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Branding China is still an insurmountable task

What comes to your mind when you think of China?

After a spate of damaging news surrounding the Made in China branding (think: chemical-laced milk powder, toxic pet food, artificial eggs and mattresses stuffed with soiled and sewer materials), the Chinese government commissioned a branding and advertising campaign to improve the perception of “Made in China” products. That was in December 2009. You can watch that ad below.

Fast forward to the summer of 2011, has the ad campaign (won by DDB’s sister company in China, no less) improved the impression and perception of the Made in China brand? Sadly, advertising and public relations efforts don’t deliver miracles results when clients do not clean up their acts.

Think about how Japanese, Swiss and German products are always associated with safety, quality and precision; and then, think of one good product from China. Did you draw a blank? Me too.

After much thought, perhaps it’s not so much about the inferior products being exported from China. It’s more on the lack of quality control and legit systems available to nip these local problems in the bud before they become international issues.

Putting my big-picture thinking cap on, the only way to improve the China brand and its perception is not another multi-million ad and/or public relations campaign. It is the very basic task of strengthening (or overhauling) China’s quality control systems, legal systems and immigration controls (for better tracking of citizens dealing with illegal businesses or productions).

That said, China still has to grapple with its overpopulation issues, extreme poverty, human rights violations, media censorship and corruption amongst many other issues. And these are issues that can’t be solved by an annual public relations campaign nor by prime-time advertising.

Now, if only I could get an appointment with Prime Minister Hu Jintao.

Image by: Twicepix


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