Dos and don'ts of advertising in China

Ada Ooi and Elliot Polak

How globally consistent can your brand be when it goes to China? What must be done to make it locally relevant and engaging? The differences of Chinese consumers may seem daunting. Fortunately there are clear cultural and advertising trends to take advantage of, as well as mistakes you can easily avoid.


McDonald's advertisements in the West are often simple, snappy and full of life. They reach out to almost everyone including children, teenagers and lower income brackets.

In China, McDonald's has repositioned itself to appeal not only to family and teenagers but also to a more sophisticated, growing middle class that has the choice to eat at street stalls, or stop at elegant cafés and have a coffee and cake. McDonald's has redesigned its outlets with a café feel, allowing Chinese to experience beef (versus more traditional pork and poultry dishes) in an upscale environment.