CANNES: Although China is home to some of the world’s largest brands, its young advertising industry is still on a learning curve, according to a top agency executive in the country.

According to Nils Andersson, Asia Creative President and Greater China President at TBWA\Asia, the arrival of Chinese brands in markets around the world will be nothing short of a “new world order”. (For more, subscribers can read WARC’s report: Can China’s brands crack international markets?)

“You have a situation where you have Chinese brands battling it out against one another for supremacy within the country. And then we have the next stage globally - it’s going to happen. Who the players are that will be part of that will be fought out domestically, and then they will find their way into the different markets,” he said in a panel session at the Cannes Festival of Creativity recently.

China itself is a fractured, highly diverse market, with several provinces matching European countries for GDP alone. Brand building in China’s domestic market is often just as challenging as making the leap offshore, and the country’s young advertising industry – only about 15 years old – is beginning to find its voice.

“We’ve got, effectively, 35 countries in one. We’ve got six tiers. China has got many different languages – not just Mandarin but all of the different provincial languages across the country. Over time, there’s going to be definitely a kind of body of work and a look and a feel that will develop,” Andersson said.

“It’s just too early to even assume [China's advertising industry] is anywhere near what it is going to eventually be.”

Andersson believes the future is bright for international expansion, especially for Chinese brands which re-innovating entire categories.

“China disruptors are really showing what they can do. The next stage is if they are truly going to go and export those brands to the rest of the world, to do it through the marketing… China is a sponge for what's going on in the world and the best of the best and is learning very, very quickly, even though it’s only a 15-year-old industry,” Andersson said.

Data sourced from WARC