Wieden + Kennedy’s Rob Campbell: You don’t have to be a sadomasochist to work in China but it helps

Rob Campbell talks China

Rob Campbell talks China

Earlier this year, Rob Campbell, regional head of strategy Wieden + Kennedy, gave a talk at the Mumbrella360 conference on how China has made him a better professional and a better person.

In his speech, called Sadvertising, badvertising and madvertising, Campbell talked about why advertising is all about context and the western context needs to be thrown out the window when it comes to advertising in Asia, how digital is changing advertising in the region and the differences in usage of digital in different markets, why almost nothing in China is black or white and is therefore “all about playing in the grey”.

Duty before pleasure

Campbell explains how If you understand the grey you can turn things into interesting creative, the Chinese concept of duty before pleasure, how China’s one child policy influences marketing to the Chinese, how the Chinese use social media and how it is leading to a sexual revolution, and he explains he idea of confidence without question.

If you have to justify your decision, it’s not worth buying

Campbell highlights the brands that are successfully tapping into the Chinese youth’s desire for experimentation and why they are making a mistake, why the trend to hire celebrities is also an error, creating frames of reference to change culture, the concept of status as a price point, why rebellion and niche categories don’t work in China, the currency of social value, what myth and legend can do for brands.

Respecting then changing a culture

Campbell talks about how Nike used the Olympics the change the Chinese definition of greatness, why loyalty should never be taken for granted and the importance of peers in China, why if you want to go to China you have to respect the culture.  


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