Translating Across Cultures: China
This week, we welcomed Ben Hedges, host of Taiwan's popular show, "Lao Wai Kan Zhongguo" (老外看中國) or a "foreigner's perspective on China,” to share his insights on working across cultures in advertising and marketing today. Ben lives and breathes Chinese culture. He is an expert communicator and came to McCann to share his views on Chinese current affairs and his knowledge of thousands of years of Chinese culture.
Ben's unique background, passion and dedication to the Chinese culture started from a young age. He was born and raised in Hong Kong where he learned the local dialect (Cantonese) and developed an insatiable curiosity about all things Chinese. Before hosting his own network show, Ben became a YouTube sensation with his original web series, sharing his take on headlines in the Chinese-speaking media world. He has turned his fluency in Chinese dialects and expertise in the culture into a career, and now acts a bridge between the two cultures - bringing a western take on Chinese affairs, and helping a western audience understand Chinese culture.
Ben cited the Taoist tradition that emphasizes understanding the larger forces to make sense of any situation in the modern world, a world where everything is but an expression of forces more fundamental than may appear on the surface. From The Book of Change or 易, "The invisible and intangible is the Tao, and the visible and tangible is just a container." In other words, the essence of a culture is really what cannot be seen, and that which can be seen is merely the culture’s physical manifestation.
Simply put by Ben: any situation in modern China is but an expression of the larger cultural forces at work. To illustrate this, he shared a video produced for 7-11 in Taiwan, pointing out the difference in humor and how it reflected Taiwanese culture.
We were excited to see a big turnout from McCanners. Pingyi Lee-Noto, VP, Director of Analytics, MRM//McCann, pointed out that the tenets of Confucianism remain a tie that bind all the diverse groups comprising Chinese culture. Laura Simpson, EVP, Global Director, McCann Truth Central, helped connect the dots between cultural insights and our industry for the audience with her thoughtful questions.
There was a lot of interesting conversation and we look forward to more talks with McCanners about strategies for cross-cultural marketing and communications.