The reintroduction of China Day added a heavy dose of mandarin to the collage of languages tossed around at the Palias. China Day was created not only to target Chinese but also to enlighten those without a China background about the country’s great leap into the global advertising industry.
The heavy presence of China’s tech giants was an undeniable feature of the day, with the opening comments fittingly give by the Chairman of Tencent Advertising SY Lau. He framed his remarks around the “fascination and frustrations” of China’s market for outsiders. On one level Lau posits, “no country has been as alluring as China since it opened up”. At the same time it has proven to be one of the most difficult markets for foreigners to crack. He offered three suggestions for foreigners interacting or planning to get into China, framing them as the ABC’s. A for AI; B for big data; and C for cloud computing.
这样的建议从腾讯广告与全球品牌主席嘴里说出来很有道理，同时也给中国日定下了清晰的基调：中国将会引领科技进步。戛纳狮子奖项类别的设置越来越注重融入科技公司的相关主题，但是同时也还一如既往专注广告行业的创意和技巧。中国科技公司的主导地位，在一定程度上也反映出了中国广告行业的弱势 – 缺乏“单纯的”创意、原创性和技艺。
The suggestions made sense coming from the Chairman of Tencent advertising and at the same time set a clear tone for the direction of China Day: technological advancements is where China will lead. Cannes Lions is increasingly integrating tech companies and topics into the award categories and talks but the festival is also about celebrating creativity and craft in the original definition of these terms. China’s dominance in the fields of technology in some way highlight a weakness in China’s advertising industry, a lack of development in ‘pure’ creativity, originality, and craft.
Lang Lang in conversation with Universal Music
This judgement may be too early to brandish on China, however. The most well attended China talk of the day ironically was the least technology centered one, which featured world renown Chinese pianist Lang Lang. Rising to fame at a very young age for his remarkable musical talents, his raw honesty and candid humor simultaneously contributed to the ease in which he connected with the audience and seemly transcend cultural barriers. As music is often described as the universal language, Lang Lang has a magic charm on stage that feels remarkably beyond any culture or language.
Apart from this endearing conversation with the world renown pianist, the rest of China Day was focused on how Chinese companies are weaving technological advancements into marketing and advertising. Talks featured two Chinese advertising agencies, Blue Focus and Hylink, that are testing their strength on the global stage, along with talks from the familiar Chinese tech giants: Baidu, Huawei, Tencent, and Alibaba.
China Day evening party hosted by Blue Focus
China’s technological developments are nothing to shirk at, indeed, technological innovation is its own form of creativity. In a country where speed is an element highly emphasized in its development process, the sheer speed at which China has adapted and improved the world’s most popular technologies, and particularly in the realm of mobile, is certainly worth the world’s attention. China is already the world’s largest mobile market and most dynamic digital economy, according to Tencent’s Lau.
The evening award show on China Day was fittingly targeting the categories of Digital, Mobile, Innovation, and Cyber, where Tencent QQ, Shenzhen won the gold in the cyber category under the ‘use of social data and insight’. The winning campaign targeted the social concern of lost children by using a face recognition technology which can predict how a child lost years ago might look, making it easier to identify lost children. The technology aided the reunion of over 175 families. It is these sorts of technologies and insights that are now one prevalent side of the marketing and advertising industry. No doubt this is the area where China will first flex its muscles as an industry leader.