The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

How A Lost Camera Is A Sign Western Brands Should Be [Even More] Nervous Of Their Chinese Counterparts …
May 2, 2013, 6:17 am
Filed under: Comment

So a couple of weeks ago, I saw this:


In typical Daily Mail style, they’re making a massive deal that a memory card inside a camera survived a journey of 5,200 miles while ‘lost at sea’, without ever mentioning/realising that the camera in question was an underwater camera and so was designed to do that in the first fucking place.


Anyway, what really struck me about this article was the last couple of lines:

‘Bruce Chen, general manager of China Airlines Honolulu Branch, said the next thing to do is find the owner and fly him or her on a complimentary flight to Taiwan to reclaim the camera.’

Am I the only one that thinks that’s the sort of thing you’d hear from Virgin?

Regardless, what I can assure you is that is absolutely NOT the sort of thing you’d hear from any Asian company, let alone China Airlines.

But times are changing.

The understanding of what attracts audiences is starting to get through.

It’s no longer about being cheap … or plagiarizing another brands success … or putting loads of cute pictures on products … it’s also about service and loyalty.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still lots of brands out there who focus more on what their bosses want than what their audience desire … but for a country whose previous approach to business was basically, “there’s 1.4 billion people here, so we can keep treating customers like crap because there’s lots of them to go around” – this is a major step forward.

Admittedly, in terms of top hotel hospitality, China [or more specifically Asia] already leads the World, but to see an Asian brand [1] speak to the international press [2] sound human and charming and not contrived and [3] talk about giving a free flight to pick something up that had nothing to do with them [or pick anything up, to be honest] is a definitive sign the increased competitive environment is having a positive effect on customer approach and brand building.

Yes, I know this is a little thing and I could be making a mountain out of a soundbite …. yes, I have previously stated that Chinese/Asian brands have some fundamental issues that could stop them from ever truly threatening their Western counterparts … and yes, I appreciate China Airlines may not [yet] be as good as Singapore or VA … but the speed of development here is incredible and if the act by the general manager of China Airlines is a sign of things to come, then Western brands will have another reason to look nervously over their shoulder at Asia’s rise.

32 Comments so far
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Is this post to thank the Chinese government for giving you more holidays than a retired member of government this year?

Comment by DH

Let’s be honest, it’s the least I can do.

Comment by Rob

Doing some work is the least you can do.

Comment by DH

I know you read a bunch of papers every day but the daily mail gives you the most enjoyment doesn’t it. For enjoyment, I mean anger.

At least that’s one thing we can agree on.

Comment by DH

The Daily Mail online is genius. While the print version moans about the world gone mad, the online version is all Kim Kardashian

Comment by mediacraftsman

Why does the headline in the article say “camera lost in Maui in 200”?

I didn’t even know they had cameras in 200AD, let alone digital ones.

Now that’s real news. I take back everything I said about DM. What a scoop.

Comment by DH

Maybe it’s because the Daily Mail are utter charlatans of journalism.

Comment by Rob

I know it’s the sort of thing you hear from Virgin.

Comment by John

Not enough John. Not enough.

Comment by Rob

Assuming this is true and not one of the daily mails imaginative stories, then what you’re saying in this post is very true. I’m shocked a member of a Chinese state company has been allowed to talk to the international press and offer a free flight.

Maybe he wasn’t supposed to but the implication on customer service focused behaviour is major, especially if more companies have a desire to compete internationally.

I’m still not sure they do, or at least not in a way that makes them feel they have to change their beliefs to win, but as small as this gesture is, I agree with you it has big possibilities.

By the way, thank god you’re back Rob. The last 5 days on this blog have been very strange. Or should I say, even stranger.

Comment by Pete

For the record, there’s more insight and learning about China marketing in this post than an entire article I read in Adage last week. Good work Rob.

Comment by Pete

Exemplary backhanded compliment there Pete.

Comment by John

That obviously wasn’t the intention.

Comment by Pete

Are they offering a free flight to get the camera back because china mail sucks the big fat one?

Comment by Billy Whizz

To all the new freaks who are coming on here. Yes, this is the normal shit Rob writes about. Sucked in.

Comment by Billy Whizz


Comment by DH

I see your Einstein post has still been attracting new comments from new people. I wonder how many will pass their views on this.
You raise a number of good points Rob, but if this is an early indication of China’s new approach to marketing then Western brands are in an even more perilous state because I could count on one hand the number of established, international brands that would approach reconciling a memory card with its owner in this way.
Good post. Good to have you back. Now, when is your next holiday?

Comment by George

Good point George – the amount of companies that would do such a thing is very small. All Asia needs to do now is stop thinking ‘good enough is good enough’ and Western brand models are all going to collapse.

Well, they will when (spefifically) China also gets over their biggest obstacle – public prejudice, both internal and external.

PS: In a month. Ha.

Comment by Rob

A lot of commenters here seem to be assuming China Airlines is actually a Chinese brand. Hardly. It’s Taiwan’s national carrier, so has little to do with the mainland. (It’s not actually allowed anywhere near a mainland airport). It’s not state owned. Oh, and it has a terrible safety record …

But for all that, it was a nice gesture. Good idea from the PR department!

Comment by Ian Gee

Yes, I made that mistake. It’s still a big gesture especially from China’s obedient daughter nation.

Comment by Pete

Wouldn’t it have been brilliant if they’d found lots of amateur porn shots?

Comment by mediacraftsman

Oh yes. Absolutely beyond brilliant.

Comment by Rob

Underwater porn?

Comment by John


Comment by Ian Gee

Isn’t this just a swiftly-forgotten PR stunt unless they tie it iinto something more substantive relating to what they do?

Comment by John

Sure, but that isn’t the issue – it’s the fact a brand in Asia is doing it, a region where this sort of behaviour is most definitely not the norm.

I know I might be making a mountain out of a molehill, but to me, this is a significant thing – it’s a major change of attitude and approach, though that could be because of an individual rather than a brand.

Comment by Rob

Wasn’t being critical, just asking.

Comment by John

I wasn’t being reactive, just responsive.

Comment by Rob

You’re talking in slides now.

Comment by John

I know a planner who finds it impossible to talk without putting a metaphor in every sentence

Comment by northern

Taiwan may be a much more progressive nation than it’s dominant neighbor, but I agree with Rob and George that China Airlines response is very different to the way most companies from that region (and any region) would respond.

I definitely take it as a sign that change may be in the air, but I live in hope I am wrong for purely self interest reasons.

Comment by Bazza

Off topic yet throwing my two cents worth into the pile on the Daily Mail. Within 30 minutes of posting about Chinese ghost cities – the Daily Mail was following my blog. Weird. It took the FBI almost an hour to hack my email after mentioning D.B. Cooper in another post.

Just saying…… 🙂

Comment by Notes To Ponder

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