Keeping the spirit of Confucius alive

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JINAN--One of the earliest Chinese exports was Confucius, a world-renowned philosopher born in Qufu more than 3,500 years ago.

Qufu is just a stone’s throw from modern-day Jinan, the capital of Shandong province on China's east coast. Even today his philosophy, which advocates justice, moral behavior, strong social relationships and sincerity, influences the city’s inhabitants.

Jinan residents “still have Confucian beliefs, they are very grounded, friendly and harmonious in their relationships with other people,” said BBDO Worldwide’s Ingrid Hsu, Shanghai-based director of strategic planning for China.

“A bit stubborn, they don’t like change or flashy behavior,” and that includes corporations as much as people. “They value their own experiences and understanding of products and services and word-of-mouth communication more than advertising.”

The gap between Jinan consumers and shoppers in China’s most sophisticated cities is pronounced, said Silver Sun, planning director of Lowe Worldwide, Shanghai. “Very trendy or hippy styles won’t work, but products that reflect family values will find success. They aren’t looking for fine details in products or marketing, so advertisers there should be straightforward and down-to-earth.”

A successful bid to build an industrial center was cut short in 1933, when Japan invaded China. Subsequent events, World War II and the rise to power of Mao Zedong, ended the city’s economic progress. Since Deng Xiaoping's reforms began in 1978, Jinan has focused on rebuilding its economy and improving its infrastructure in specialized areas such as telecommunications and information technology while solidifying its base in agriculture--particularly in areas like cotton, peanuts, and fruit-- and fishing.

Its economy has grown about 12% annually since 1990, roughly equal to the country’s national growth. Like many other Chinese cities, Jinan has suffered from progress. Industrialization has led to heavy pollution and a building boom of drab architecture that have tarnished this once-beautiful city, revered for its lakes and springs.

Confucius had another lasting impact on Jinan in the emphasis he placed on fine dining. Jinan is known for Lu Cai, one of China’s eight major cuisines, which features delicate aromas, pure tastes and tender dishes like sea cucumbers with green onions, sweet and sour carp from the nearby Yellow River and chrysanthemum hot pot. Compared to other second-tier cities in China, Jinan residents spend proportionately more money in restaurants.

“They really like going to restaurants with friends,” said Ms. Hsu. “It’s a very pronounced cultural phenomenon. They even like going to new restaurants. I'ts part of an overall emphasis on entertainment, networking, and having a good social life that is very important to them.”

Fast Facts: Jinan

Population: 5.974 million
GDP (2006)
: $27.3 billion
GDP (2005)
: $22.6 billion
Adspend (Jan 1-May 13, 2007)
: $0.41 billion
Adspend ( Jan 1-May 13, 2006)
: $ 0.47 billion
Year-on-year change
: -13%
Adspend (2005)
: $0.91 billion
Adspend (2004)
: $0.71 billion
Year-on-year change
: 22%
Avg. min. viewed per day per viewer of all channels (aged 4+)
: 220
Basic cable subscription cost (per month)
: $1.57

Average cost of 30”spot during prime time on Shandong TV-Qilu, the city’s most-watched local channel (based on rate card value)
18:55-20:55 $3,163

Top 10 brands by ad spend on TV
1. SD Lanxiang (Education)
2. 999 Pharm (Medication)
3. Yanbaomu (Health & Fitness)
4. Gionee (Mobile Communication)
5. Bovle Cloth (Clothing materials)
6. Jiang Zhong Pharm (Pharmaceutical)
7. Jinan GyoYiTang Hospital (Health care)
8. OE Person (Health & Fitness)
9. Detian (Spirits)
10. Sanchine Pharm (Medication)
(Local channels only, based on rate card)

Top 10 advertising categories on TV
1. Medication
2. Hair care
3. Education
4. Clothing
5. Health & fitness
6. Health care
7. Spirits
8. Mobile communication
9. Personal hygiene
10. Tonics & vitamins
(Local channels only, based on rate card)

Top 5 Local Channels by Ad Revenue
1. Shandong Satellite TV
2. Shandong TV (Qi lu)
3. Shandong TV - Drama & Movie
4. Shandong TV - Variety
5. Shandong TV - Public & News

Source: The Nielsen Co.
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