Baidu Ad Shows Chinese Brands Shifting Ad Strategy From Product To Image


Chinese Internet search engine giant Baidu is updating its image with a slick new TV and online ad that portrays the company as the key for users to unlock their future potential. The first corporate ad for Baidu since 2005, the 48-second spot follows the launch last August of the company’s Kuangjisuan, or box computing search platform.

What’s most notable is not that Baidu wants to update its corporate image — or that it waited five years to do so — it’s how it’s doing it. The ad depicts users finding a bright future with the click of a button on its search engine, using images that have a dreamy, artistic quality.

Selling images of personal aspirations rather than the product itself is a marketing tactic so well-established overseas that it’s seen as strange when it isn’t employed. But for China’s nascent advertising industry, rushing to catch up to international standards, this type of corporate branding is still a new and underused tool.[more]

Foreign companies operating in China introduced aspirational advertising.Nike’s pre-Olympics ads featured a variety of Chinese athletes mid-jump, hurl or dive, held up by the hands of thousands of their countrymen. Levi’s used arty photos of local, underground artists, musicians and designers lounging in studios or hovering over mixers.

But Chinese companies have generally stuck to more simple, straight-on marketing, perhaps featuring a smiling pop star holding the product, or just an image of the product itself above the comapny’s name. The Baidu ad is evidence of a Chinese advertising landscape that is rapidly becoming more sophisticated, where ads take on a life of their own and become an art in their own right.