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中国广告行业“一劫” | China’s advertising industry tests its ‘Karma’


广告公司最终剪辑版 | Agency’s final cut

Kama Zhang曾就职于奥美广告,负责广告创意工作,2012年他创立了颉摩广告(Karma)。公司的宗旨不仅仅是为了创作有深度又鼓舞人心的广告作品,同时也是为了保证创意流程能执行得更加规范。近期,颉摩广告与山寨Airbnb品牌“小猪短租”之间的广告风波就验证了这一点。

Kama Zhang, a former Ogilvy creative, started Karma creative agency in December 2012.  The goal was not only to create insightful and inspiring work but also to ensure that the creative process was done ‘right’.  His motives were surely tested in a recent client dispute with Xiaozhu, an Airbnb China copycat.


Xiaozhu approached Karma after viewing the agency’s work for the mobile fitness app Keep.  The two companies started working together in late 2016 to create a full campaign for the client that would include subway posters, basic social media strategy, and a TVC.


From Karma’s perspective during the strategizing and planning process the relationship was positive.  Karma believed it was building its trust with the client through this process, a trust necessary for creative ideas to flourish and all sides to reach the final goal, while being treated fairly and respectfully.

在制作公司Shooting Gallery和导演Matthis Zedtner的后期制作公司Velvet的支持下,颉摩在广告开拍之前,就准备好了广告片预览供客户小猪查看。视觉预览的目的是把风险降到最低,在广告开拍之前就让客户对成片效果有一定的概念。颉摩广告在上海开启了为期三天的拍摄,并且小猪参与现场拍摄,对拍摄方面并没有提出任何异议。

With the help of production company Shooting Gallery and Director Matthias Zentner’s post production house, Velvet, Karma put together a previs for the client to review before the first day of shooting for the TVC began.  The purpose of a previs is to minimize creative risks for the client and to clarify what the end product will look like before the actual efforts of shooting begin.  During the three days studio shoot in Shanghai, the client came to the shoot and did not raise any major objections either.

广告片预览 | Previs


When A cut was sent to the client, several days later the post-production was stopped with these three comments.  One, the film focuses too much on budget hotels rather than the Xiaozhu brand.  This, however, was the brand strategy proposed and agreed upon by the client, to show the disadvantages of budget hotels in order to amplify the benefits of Xiaozhu’s services.  Two, the film is a bit too radical.  If the client was not happy with the tone and message, why did the client approve everything in the PPM and the previs sent before shooting began?  Three, a blind test of the cut was shown to Xiaozhu’s staff and many were not clear on the message of the ad, therefore Xiaozhu is worried its customers might also be confused.  The agency also performed blind tests with various groups of viewers who were able to grasp the meaning of the ad.


Karma was of course shocked by this response. This was the first time the client had expressed concern or negative feedback to the agency’s work and strategy.   The agency’s first reaction was to understand why the cut was rejected and if anything could be done to solve the client’s concerns.  After Karma called the client and a brief detailed email correspondence ensued, the client reaffirmed its position that the cut would be rejected and Karma should stop working on any further brand strategy for the client as the agency would not be paid for anything after the A cut was delivered.

就此,颉摩面临着艰难抉择,要么接受客户的否决,放弃整个项目,跟制作公司的合同也要解约;要么就坚持到底,但是同时也要承担经济风险,继续遵守他们与制作公司和后期公司签订的合约。沟通下来, 大家都觉得还是要一做到底。所以,创意团队热情专注,最终完成了这个项目,也克服了经济风险。

Karma had a tough decision to make.  Either accept the client’s termination, forget the whole project and break its contract with production, or commit to finishing the campaign and take on the financial risk this entails, including upholding its contract with production and post production? In the end it became obvious that everyone wanted go forward and finish the TVC campaign.   Dedication and passion for the creative work the team set out to achieve over road the financial risks involved in making the final decision.


颉摩广告团队 | Karma Team


At the release of this article, the client has paid the agency around 50% of the budget allocated for the whole campaign, which included creative strategies, posters, and the TVC.   All posters have already been released in major subway stations in eight cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu among others.  Karma has continued to contact the client to receive full payment for the work it completed for the brand, so far the client has declined to respond to the agency despite the agency threatening to take the client to court. 


Karma’s WeChat article originally breaking the story had over 88,000 hits and went viral among the advertising community in China.  Indeed, drawing attention to the often hierarchical relationship between clients, agencies, and production in China is well overdue.  Karma makes a bold statement by standing up to its client in this very public way.  Moreover, Karma fulfilled its contractual obligation, paying production and post production, despite not getting paid in full from the client.  Karma’s  firm stance against its thoughtless client is a win for agencies and production companies in China, who deserve more clout for the sweat and blood they put into each clients’ campaign.


Karma, as the name suggests, would like to build better trust into these relationships and bring more justice to the creative process in China.  The ultimate decision to finish the TVC, Karma believes will improve its relationship with future clients, production, and the international advertising community. Indeed, Karma has received more client interest after the story broke.  The long term effects are yet to be seen, but if good karma wins out this could be a positive step for China’s advertising industry as a whole.


Credits 创作团队

Executive Creative Director 创意总监: Kama Zhang

Head of Art 艺术指导: Shuai Wang

Art Director 艺术总监: Frank Ran

Designer 设计师: YY Li, Atin Qu, Tom Li

Copy writer 文案: Suya Shu, Tina Tian

Account Director 客户总监: Amanda Zheng

Account Manager 客户经理: Rino Zhang

Director 导演:Matthias Zentner

Senior Account Executive 高级客户执行 : Snow Zhang

Production Company 制作公司: Shooting Gallery

Music Production 音乐制作: Chris Zhou (Fantasy Music)

Stills (subway posters) 剧照(地铁): Refine China Production Company

Photographer 摄影师: Zhou Yulong

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