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Chinese creatives on copycatting: ‘when we see an idea that works, we borrow it’

Marketers in China are taking a “shortcut to success” by copying ideas from elsewhere, a top Chinese agency creative director has said.

Lo Sheung Yan, Jenny Lu, Graham Fink and Jimmy Lam

Lo Sheung Yan, Jenny Lu, Graham Fink and Jimmy Lam

In a session at the Cannes Lions festival titled ‘How different is Chinese creativity?’, Jimmy Lam, the North China chief creative officer of DDB, told delegates that while China’s marketers are fast to react to changing market conditions, he wished that they pushed harder for creativity.

“Marketers want to take short cuts to success. Only the bold ones do truly innovative things,” he said.

Also on the panel was Lo Sheung Yan, chairman of the Asia Pacific Creative Council at JWT. He said that the market situation in China was so wide open that marketers “grab opportunities when they see them.”

He said that agencies were not averse to imitation either. “In China, when see an idea proven to work, we don’t mind borrowing it,” he said.

Another panel member was Jenny Lu, who has spent six months as an art director in China, and was part of China’s Young Lions team. She said: “I think being a creative is the most exciting job in the world. But I wish it could be more fun and playful and less serious, and clients would respect creativity and give us more room to be creative.”

Their comments come in the same week that the former Asia Pacific marketing director of McDonald’s Joe Talcott said that in parts of Asia, “the craft of producing an exact copy is not only acknowledged, it’s seen as worthwhile.”

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