Huawei marketing chief Glory Zhang: my advice for agency success in China

Have a shared vision, mutual respect and 'co-create' with clients - those are the keys to succeeding as an agency in China, Huawei Consumer Business Group CMO Glory Zhang told a seminar at the Cannes Lions today.

Huawei's Glory Zhang with Simon Shaw of H+K (left) and Jeff Beer of Fast Company
Huawei's Glory Zhang with Simon Shaw of H+K (left) and Jeff Beer of Fast Company

Zhang was speaking in a seminar on Tuesday hosted by the Chinese mobile giant and Hill+Knowlton Strategies, which counts Huawei among its clients.

Regarding advice for agencies working with clients in China, Zhang said an agency and client should be able to unite trhough a "shared vision".

"The second [suggestion] is bridging the cultural gap – mutual respect.

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"The third one is co-creation. You have to ask the brands, then settle down to talk, have that dialogue, then together you find the answer."

Zhang also stressed the need to be quick to succeed in the Chinese market: "Never waste time making decisions - go fast."

East meets West

Huawei is the third biggest smart phone manufacturer in the world and has been making inroads into Western markets. Asked about the biggest challenge for marketing in the West, Zhang highlighted the need to adapt to the culture of brand storytelling.

"Instead of only focusing on the product communication, we should be more telling the story about why this company, and why this organisation," she stated.

H+K chief creative strategist Simon Shaw said agencies operating in China should approach the challenge "with an open mind".

Shaw said: "You have to put all the cultural baggage you have on the backburner - and actually forget everything you know.

"I think sometimes as an agency, when we pitch to Western clients, perhaps there’s more of a tendency to want to solve every single problem in the pitch process. [In China] there’s more of an appetite to show intention of direction, and then perhaps co-create together and iterate together.

"That’s challenging for agencies that are set up to work in certain ways. We’ve had to completely rethink the way that we work, become much more focused on being client centric, and actually reflecting back the culture of Huawei, our client."

H+K today launched its Shanghai Addition offer, whereby the agency will deploy specialists from its offices globally to work for clients in China if they require certain expertise.

H+K UK CEO Richard Millar said: "This is about moving away from a network which is very inflexible, geographically based, to looking at it more from a capabilities perspective and making the talent far more mobile in the way we deploy them to client briefs."

Read next: In pictures - the PRWeek party at Cannes Lions

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