China is a culture in transition. It has been transforming itself for more than a decade, and it will continue to do so for a long time to come. While on the one hand China appears to be modern, on the other hand the word “modern” characterizes only certain aspects of the culture. One of these is the realm of advertising, advertising policy, and advertising culture.
  • China has more than 200 television stations
  • China has more than 11,000 newspapers magazines
  • China has more than 100,000 government micro-blogs
  • China has more than 500,000,000 social media users

But, while it is clear that the market in China is large[i], failure to understand the nuances of advertising in China could lead to a great deal of difficulty in promoting an EB-5 project there, not to mention a lot of money wasted in approaching Chinese advertising from a Western mindset.
Beware Of Potential Political Problems

The Chinese tend to think of advertising as propaganda. Hence all advertising, whether at the national level or the local level, must come under the watchful eyes of government officials, who want to ensure that you are not misrepresenting your product. In the true purview of traditional censorship, there are very few “Do” rules compared to “Don’t” rules. A major obstacle is that advertising that has been approved in one locale may not automatically be approved in another. Also, you shouldn’t assume that an advertisement that gets a terrific response from an American study group will even be approved by a Chinese government entity.
Here are a few things that will cause the government to stop your advertising campaign.
  • Anything that appears to promote sex in any way.
  • Anything that appears to bring disrespect to China, Chinese culture, or the Chinese government, military, or just about any other Chinese institution.
  • Anything that appears to promote an improper or unsafe activity. By “promote,” we mean “display.”
  • Anything that appears to criticize or otherwise disrespect your competition.

While it is highly unlikely that you would advertise in any way that knowingly casts aspersions on most of the above, American advertising has no qualms with implying that the product or service being offered is better than its competitors. Technically, it is an FTC violation in the U.S. to claim that your product or service is “the best,” unless the statement can be proven. In China, it doesn’t matter. It is simply not allowed. Not even by vague implication. The fact is, that “the Communist Party of the PRC continues to look upon advertising with some suspicion.”[ii]
The general rule here may be to keep your advertising limited to brand exposure.
Don’t Get Lost In Translation

Overcoming the problem of how to translate your message into Chinese may be even more difficult than dealing with governmental regulations. Translating from one language to another is always difficult because no language translates word-for-word to another. Experts at translation have to deal with both literal, word translation and figurative, idea translation. Translating English to Chinese is more difficult than most other languages for two distinct reasons.
  • The Chinese characters are not words. They are pictures.
  • Chinese dialects can differ so significantly that even the best Mandarin translation of the ideas in your message could be completely misunderstood in other dialects, and therefore misleading to viewers or listeners.

For instance, while Mercedes Benz translates well into “ben chi” and its meaning of “racing gallop,” Nokia translates to “nuo ji ya” with a meaning of “promise base Asia.” Who knows what that means?
Explore the Opportunities

The venues for advertising in China are as wide and varied as in the U.S. They include Internet, social media, newspapers, magazines, billboards, buses, radio, television, banners, and much more. Despite the difficulties involved in using advertising to reach EB-5 clients in China, it doesn’t mean that the potential of advertising should be completely ignored.
This is an extract from the book How to Find Chinese Investors, Agents & Clients for Your EB-5 Projects & Services: A Practical Guide for Regional Centers, Attorneys, Developers and Businessmen”
More information: http://www.business-visa-usa.com/Book.html



[i] Danwie.com, Tracking Chinese Media and Internet, http://www.danwei.com/intelligence-f...-and-internet/

[ii] William M. O’Barr, “Advertising in China,” published in Advertising & Society Review by the Advertising Educational Foundation