Faceless People and Unsung Heroes: Imperatives for Celebrity Advertising in China

Saurabh Sharma and Jason Spencer
Ogilvy & Mather, Beijing; Millward Brown ACSR, Shanghai

There is no Paris Hilton in Beijing. In fact there is no Paris Hilton among all the 1.3 billion people in China. Out here, celebrities are not sons and daughters of someone – they are all self-made. They are the first generation of Chinese success. Not even one among the top 100 star celebrities in China, is a son or daughter of anyone famous – they are all virtually self-made success stories. (Forbes List of Top 100 Celebrities in China – 2010)

But everyone is not succeeding and making it big; in fact most do not even get a fair chance. With its hybrid socialist-capitalistic structure, China retains from its socialist past distinct 'elements of regimentation' in everyday life. From service staff in beauty salons and real estate agencies, to those working in the factories and restaurants – almost all execute commands in a preset fashion. Following and repeating orders, and staying within the limit-lines of the ruled rulebook, is a part of everyday life. This regimentation sits at the heart of the non-democratic order that prevails in China and ensures that things get done – something unheard of in rest of the developing world.