By Paul Maynard
Paul Maynard is an eLearning student living in Vietnam. His work for Myriad touches on the differences between the industries of the two regions.
After my Intro to Advertising course wrapped up in the fall, I became curious about the differences between American theory in advertising and current trends in S. E. Asian advertising.
As it turns out, these differences start all the way up to the structure of agencies themselves. S.E. Asia business culture is set up in a cluster – meaning that many people have many roles, teamwork is the highest priority and position titles are irrelevant. There is a CEO, a president, a director, and an owner.
In many American companies, these titles might be held by the same person, but in S.E. Asia they’re just used to identify different people on their business cards. All of these people do the same job essentially. If you think it’s confusing now, just wait.
Let’s talk about budgets now. In the USA, a traditional company may give bonuses out if you stay under annual budget – not here. An annual budget must be spent, and is usually spent early in the calendar year (the reality of it is that most of the funds are dipped into and stashed into pockets, instead of used for paying out rates).
It’s a tough truth of the market, but at least it can work in your favor. If you’re looking to do business in S. E. Asia, start networking and building working relationships late in the year. When the new year rolls around, you’ll have a better chance of getting some of that budget for your projects before it dries up.
Speaking of your own projects, let’s talk about contracts. In short, do not write it. Under no circumstances should you write a contract. Don’t go in thinking your slick American business mind will protect you and fill in loop holes by writing a contract yourself- this will only come back to haunt you.
The local company will archive your proposal, copy it, revise it, and use the benefits against you. Essentially, they will turn the contract around to be in their favor. The crucial thing is to research your options and have a person native to the region/more experienced help you.
Lastly, design. You have to go into the business with the knowledge that your layouts and designs will be copied. Your design submissions will probably be rejected, and the overall layouts and styling will be copied and redone by local teams. You have to accept this as a fact of life.
At least you will come out knowing that you are influencing positive artistic change in the developing world. But the worst part is, you won’t get credit and you won’t get paid. Intellectual property is not an issue here. You will, however, build a good reputation for yourself with future clients and projects if you are patient and go with the flow.
Don’t fight, don’t’ argue, and don’t threaten legal action. You are a part of socialization now. Everyone talks to everyone. Your ability to role with the punches is of higher value then making your point.