I’m a little late to this as I spent last week in Singapore at the Spikes Asia conference, but I think it’s worth sharing.
Certainly, for anyone interested in Chinese youth culture and the way it is evolving online, this presentation from Beijing-based research consultancy China Youthology is a great overview of the key trends.
What’s useful is the way it highlights the growing divergence between the offline world (harmonious, family-oriented, traditional) and the online (raucous, argumentative, youth-focused, with a strong Western influence).
For brands, the opportunity to make waves in this environment is huge. One of the examples cited in the report is ‘Old Boys’, a 40-minute online film created as part of a Chevrolet-backed film project called Bright Eleven. It gained 36 million hits on video site Youku. In the absence of great content in the offline world, there is huge scope for content creation in the online.
Underlining some of the points in the report, last week hugely popular TV show Super Girl (a TV talent show) was killed off by the censors. Super Girl had attracted a lot of attention for some of its content – it was accused of being “vulgar” and for promoting the wrong kind of values. The show was ostensibly banned for over-running its time slot, but most commentators think the real reason was content of the show, plus the fact that it was on an upstart provincial satellite station rather than the state broadcaster CCTV.
Will China’s youth be tuning in to the replacement shows, which the broadcaster has promised will “promote moral ethics, public safety and housework”? Or will they be on the internet watching something racier from the US?
The report also makes the point that online connections between young people are not an end in themselves; the next step is to move those connections around shared interests into the real world. We’ve already seen one interesting campaign use this insight – a case for McDonald’s by TBWA that was entered for the Warc Prize for Asian Strategy – and I’m sure there’ll be many more.