Production House MSE might not be a common house hold name in the Chinese Adversing world, but thats probably about to change as they continually keep producing award winning work and have just recently won “Best Production” at the 2020 Golden Lions. SHP+ recently sat down with the quiet achieving PH to have a proper chat and to learn more about them.
MSE is a company that often introduces themselves as “Millennials with a big cinematic dream”. That’s an apt description for the production house moved by the goal to create good stories for younger generation, that will ultimately bring their work to the big screen. Given that the post 80s and post-90s generation reportedly accounts for 65% of total consumption growth in China, Chinese millennials are quickly becoming the dominant and influential consumer force. Brands want to tap into their growing appetites to spend, and a production house that doubles as target audience, is understandably up to the task to turn creative ideas into effective ads.
MSE moves fast: within five years since its inception, the company’s now producing at a pace of 70 spots per year. The two founders Tong Chao and Zeng Jian jokingly credit a plate of crayfish as the origin story of the company. The future partners met through Zeng Jian’s wife who’s a classmate of Tong Chao, and clicked instantly: they both were tired of working as hired professionals and wanted to do something of their own. With expertise in branding on one side, and production experience on the other, shared ideals and dedication, MSE founders make a balanced partnership.
Middle 中间 – ZengJian 曾健
Middle 中间 – Tong Chao 童超
It’s interesting to notice, how in mere 5-6 years storytelling transformed from a niche sector in Chinese adland to a must-have of marketing campaigns. Looking at their work for Dettol, spots for WeChat, NetEase, Tencent Maps and other projects, you get the understanding that MSE is primarily after storytelling as well. According to Tong Chao, it’s not that storytelling did not exist in China earlier, it’s that before the market took foreign adverts as reference, but with time the audience’s tastes and aesthetics are changing, and there’s a big demand for local stories now. Even though MSE enjoys working with foreign talent who bring a broader, more international perspective and a different visual approach, those collaborations are occasional. If it’s not the in-house director Karen 徐凯伦, who shoots about 10% of MSE’s spots, most likely it’s another Chinese director on their set. What differentiates storytelling spots from other ads are a sense of authenticity and how they can resonate with the audience. “Local directors understand Chinese people, and this is life that they too are living. Unless a foreigner lived in China for a long time, and is not coming and going for different projects, it’s very hard to grasp the Chinese storytelling”, says Tong Chao.
值得留意的是，在短短5-6年的时间里，中国广告市场中的故事性广告从一个很小众的类别，迅速变为广告界的主流。从动观之前的作品，比如滴露，微信，网易，腾讯地图等相关广告，我们不难看出，动观也是以故事性为主。而根据童超的说法，在这之前故事性广告中国不是没有，只不过当时的市场以外国广告作为参照，现在随着时间的变化，观众的口味和审美也变了，大家希望看到本土故事的意愿越来越强烈。虽然，与国外人才合作很开心，他们也能带来更广泛，更国际化的视角和不一样的视觉方式与方法，动观还是选择主要与国内人才合作。公司10%的项目由公司内部导演徐凯伦来完成，剩下的则通常会选择与一名中国导演合作。能让一部故事性广告片脱颖而出的往往是一种 “真实感” ，以及如何巧妙地以此唤起观众的共鸣。“国内导演比较了解中国人，以及生活的感情可能发生在他的身边。国外导演，他除非在中国生活很久很久，他才回了解这些东西，但如果是从国外飞过来，可能很难了解story的部分”童超说到。
“The Pinewood Giant & The Germ Kingdom”, directed by Kevin Lee, brought gold in Best Production category for MSE (动观).
由Kevin Lee 执导，动观制作的《松林巨人和细菌王国》在金狮奖的评选中获得最佳制片
You might think, that MSE is sort of practicing storytelling in advertising to get to movies one day, but it’s not an absolutely accurate assumption. The founders confirm, that entering film industry is the ultimate goal, but even when that happens, they won’t give up advertising. To stay relevant in the internet age in the market that develops as fast as China, the production house has been playing by the “content is king” rules from the very beginning. As to their cinematic future, MSE shares that creating good scripts is a foremost task, and the genre, be it a comedy, a horror, or sci-fi, is secondary.
网易云音乐 x MSE 动观文化 x 徐凯伦
We finished our chat on a bittersweet note, talking about advertising production industry’s attitude in China. “With all the attention on agency and director, it’s important to get more people in the industry to be seen. So that young people pursue and understand different types of work, rather than limiting the career aspirations to “I want to become a director”. Only in this way our industry can achieve extensive growth— with young talents entering the industry, moving to professionalism, and we’re looking forward to the industrialization of film and television”, says Zeng Jian. “It feels, that abroad the production is more relaxed, while in China everything’s done on the verge of mental breakdown: the time is always extremely tight, the budgets are tight”, adds Tong Chao with hope that local production can also one day be less brutal.
Huawei 华为 2020CNY