Victoria Secret‘s high-profile problems with authorities in Shanghai were not the first when big brands try to organize events in China, nor will they be the last. Brands are simply not aware enough of politically or morally sensitive issues, different from their home market, says branding experts Ben Cavender to Reuters.
The issue has underscored a dilemma for global brands, sports franchises, moviemakers and performers looking to tap China’s big-spending consumers while keeping on the right side of often stringent rules about content and behaviour.
“Brands have to be much more aware of politically or morally sensitive topics here,” said Ben Cavender, Shanghai-based principal at China Market Research Group, adding the lure of the market meant most people would nevertheless take risks.
“It’s a very different political environment than their home markets and we’re at a time when China is on a drive to clean up behaviour and push a sort of moral code.”
China has long kept tight control of performers it allows into the country. Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Bjork and Bon Jovi are all banned over perceived bad behaviour or for broaching sensitive topics like Tibet or Taiwan.
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