Made for China: Global Collaboration and Understanding in Advertising Design

Lisa Scharoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With a burgeoning economy and one of the world’s largest populations of consumers, the growth and opportunities for graphic design in Mainland China seem endless. Western design and advertising agencies are eager to capture the imaginations of the Mainland audience. The visual communications strategies proposed by western advertising agencies however, often display an inadequate understanding of the historical relevance of symbols and long held value sets of the Chinese consumer. Some agencies take the viewpoint that the Mainland audience wants a copy of things ‘western.’ This can be observed in the shopping districts of most major cities in China where billboards displaying oversized images of Caucasian models dominate the visual environment. Another commonly used strategy is to use a mix of visually interesting Chinese symbols without understanding the full meaning and implication of those symbols. The above illustrates that design educators must begin the process of cross-cultural awareness at the undergraduate level to assure that more effective creative strategies can be achieved in the future. This paper explores cultural confusion in design and the possibilities of overcoming these misunderstandings through cross-cultural collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-301
Number of pages11
JournalDesign Principles and Practices
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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