As Jimmy Liang, the agency’s China CEO, explained to Campaign Asia-Pacific, China's car purchasing culture is not as developed as in other markets. Almost 80 per cent of buyers pay cash for their new cars, to the chagrin of automakers, for whom providing financing is an important revenue stream. "In China, there is a culture that if you have to borrow a loan to buy a car, you would ‘lose face’,” Liang said.
The client has increased its marketing efforts to promote its car loans, working with a number of agencies, including BBDO, on different assignments. The marketing push is also part of an effort to convince young, white-collar citizens to buy the entry-level models the carmakers are introducing, Liang said.
He added that although banks generally offer the lowest interest rates for loans, car companies offer more tailor-made plans to match different products to each car buyer, be they first-time buyers or upgraders.
In China, JvM/Tonghui has four Mercedes clients in China: Mercedes China (Import); Beijing Benz Automotive (a joint venture with Beijing Motors); Daimler Northeast Asia; and the Mercedes Benz Driving Academy. Liang explained that they all work as separate companies.
In addition, the agency also won a visual identity/corporate identity project for the hotel business of Hong Kong-listed Hopson Development Holdings, which has more than 20 hotels in China.
Liang declined to comment on the monitored media spending for these two new businesses. “China is huge in geography and many clients are fairly big in size,” he said.