China Chinese Markets Marketing

Are the 4A’s – big ad agencies dead in China?

Big Ad Agencies, ad agencies dead in China

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The 4A’s (Big Ad Agencies)

Is there room in China for the 4A’s (Big Ad Agencies)? This is an important question that will be answered later in the video below. But before we get started let me explain what a 4A is and why they are important.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (the 4A’s or AAAA) was founded in 1917, and has since been recognized as the national trade association representing the advertising agency business in the United States.” – Jeff Bausch

The 4A’s are the major players, they account for 80 percent of the advertising produced in the United States. When we talk about the 4A’s role in China, we are talking about the boutiques that are backed by WPP, Omnicom, Interpublic Group, etc. Also, we are  talking about China’s Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies.

If want to know more about some of the advertising agencies in China that are backed by the 4A’s check out this list Top 10 list of Advertising Agencies in China.

Video are big ad agencies dead in China?

The video is an interview with David Wolf. He is an experienced ad man with an extensive background in China. The video takes a look at the future of big ad agencies in China. The video is produced by Thoughtful China. If you have not been following them, now is a good time to start. They continue to produce quality content about China and the Chinese markets.

大型广告公司前景如何? – Is There a Future for Big Ad Agencies?

Final Thoughts about the future of Big Ad Agencies in China

After watching this video, I have to agree with David, the future of the Big Ad Agencies in China is at risk, but I also believe there is hope if they can break away from their headquarters and become more independent. China and the Chinese markets are extremely different in many ways from western markets and requiring approval from NY or London is impractical. Decisions need to be made here in China because the talent has a better understanding of what works and what needs to be done in order to be effective. Just like the video said flexibility is key to survival.

I also agree that the smaller specialized boutiques and agencies will continue to gain ground within China. Marketing and advertising encompass many aspects, which means smaller specialized agencies can become experts and provided the best quality on one or two aspects. Specializing in social media, digital, print, etc. is where the smaller boutiques can out shine the big ad agencies. They can cut cost because they will not have the overhead or staffing requirements of a full service ad agency.

Again I agree, I think the trend will continue from Big Ad agencies to specialized agencies and we will see a balancing in the next few years. The Big Ad agencies will need to rethink their purpose and restructure their China operations. I believe they will remain important players because of their media buying power, but we might see a shift in creatives. The creative aspects will be shifted to the smaller agencies that specialize and the media buying will be handled by the Big Ad agencies because of their leverage.

What are your thoughts about the future of the Big Ad agencies in China? and What do you think about the rise of smaller specialized agencies?

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  • Reply
    December 26, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Vid didn’t work for me, not even with Proxy.

    I agree with the basic theme but there will lways be enough business in China to keep the A4’s happy for 2 reasons.

    1/ Large MC’s don’t care so much about “clever” marketing, they want an solid, reliable dare I say traditional agency they can trust. SHARKS to them are unfounded and maybe too risky to trust wiht their major BRAND. As you once said, the Whales are well now because they are well known.

    2/ An A4 is time effective, give the account to them, they will sub out cutting edge if need be, for example, we were sub’d to help out in 2011 with VW new vehicle releases.

    2+/ As long as their is corruption in China [and I think there always will be] the A4’s will always be better connected than the smaller agencies.

    Just my 2 fens worth~

    • Reply
      Chairman Migo
      December 27, 2013 at 6:23 am

      Thanks for the comment. Sorry the video didn’t load for you. I use a vpn and Youtube usually doesn’t have a problem. Again, I agree with the video but I also understand your point. I think there will be a shift and re-balancing in the industry but we will always have a need for 4A’s.

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