Modesty is the best policy


Don’t worry, it’s just a typically Chinese expression of modesty!

The fact is that Chinese parents think that a big head isn’t a pretty one, and don’t want their children to get conceited.

In the Chinese culture, modesty is the best policy. Confucianism still thrives in contemporary China. Confidence does not necessarily manifest into chest pounding self celebration. The global proposition of Johnnie Walker and the concept of personal progress which the ‘Keep Walking’ campaign is based on had to be reinterpreted as a pact between men to help each other’s future progress.

Tom Dotoroff, the Greater China CEO for JWT, mentioned in his book ‘Billions. Selling to the new Chinese consumer’ that ‘…in a regimented, Confucian society, the leading goose gets shot down. Standing out too obviously elicits ridicule, even scorn…’

The implication of it is also that brand message often needs to adjust the tone for different culture. It’s not only what and how you say, it’s where you say it! Asian brands also should ride on the subtly of the culture in leveraging the brand image, such as the recent ‘Quietly Brilliant’ proposition for HTC, the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer, communicating the brand’s understated personality.

The cultural insight series:

I have been collaborating and co-creating work with a network of independent creatives based all over the world for many years. I always have this idea of producing a collection of cultural insight with contributions from each one of them.

This week marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, so I feel it is appropriate for me to kick off the series with an insight on Chinese. I hope to bring to you more insights from other cultures in the future.

Have a prosperous Year of the Tiger!