Advertising and the Age of Public Relations; An Example of China (Part one).


China as a nation has really capitalized on public relations and advertising; marketing to grow her influence. Photo Courtesy of

China has grown to become a power to reckon in the world except in the recent past when the Corona virus has had a great impact on her economy and the geopolitics of the whole country. In fact the virus has turned out to be an enemy of the world number one and a threat to every country including Kenya.

Early into the Kibaki administration, I got an opportunity to see a Chinese in my neighborhoodpP for the first time in my life.  Before then, I had only seen a Chinese in the movies. To us, every Chinese was a Jet Li, a Bruce Lee or a Jackie Chan.

At the slightest moment we heard Chinese people had passed in our neighborhood, we all went to the roads to look at them and probably get an opportunity to see their tae kwondo. Unfortunately, these were road builders and not masters of the art of fighting.

Despite staying for a short period before the Indians continued with the project, they build the roads as well as children. In fact the white color was a big sell with our women because their dark melanin had become too ‘common’ among them. It was time to change and opportunity was right here under their noses. What could they do? They grabbed it.

So the Chinese came as an underworld of road builders and conquered the industry. They then proceeded to conquer our women too. It doesn’t amaze me any longer to see a Mogaka Li, a Mwangi Chan or even a Kiptoo Lee. That is China in Kenya today.

About thirty years ago, Chinese people and their influence was very minimal in Kenya and around the world, it was known as an underworld operative. But in the recent past, this Asian country has grown steadily to reach a level of throwing a punch at the USA for the super power helm in terms of economic prowess as well as political influence.

When I came to Nairobi about a decade ago, Chinese nationals were just about a handful. Today I must see a dozen of them almost everywhere, everyday. Back then, their influence had just began being felt through their substandard electronics and products within our markets.

Today, even the best of our products like Apple phones and laptops are made in China. It is very possible that we have used Alibaba or even AliExpress in our business transactions and that when we are doing so, we are using a Huawei phone or even a Lenovo laptop.

Besides doing that, we could be enjoying ourselves by catching up on WeChat using probably another Chinese brand in totality called Redmi phone. On the side we could be watching a high definition Chinese action movie in Chinese language with some English subtitle.

How did the Chinese do it in such a short period of time? A lot has been alluded to speed. In simple words, the Chinese decided to put speed as number one in their strategic objectives. For instance, they understand that they have to be number one otherwise being number two becomes a great disadvantage to catch up with the leaders especially in the tech field.

To be number one, they came up with a program to advertise products made in China to the rest of the world as rapidly as possible while at the same time developing a great public relations model to help put china on the global market.

And they have understood that the future doesn’t lie in simply advertising and doing a public relation promotion blindly, they have discovered that such an age old concept has to be infused with innovation in the form of giving it a multi-cultural diversity approach.

So china is working in a way to bring their culture to you. In an interaction with them, they will then do their best to find a middle ground with yours (culture) and then ensure you accept their part of the bargain too. For example they can come to Kenya and use a Kenyan celeb to advertise a brand from china which will then be ‘Kenyanised’ so that it can be accepted.

In the process, whatever it is becomes masked by the local culture to a level it could be taken as local yet it is all Chinese in every way.

A few years ago, I had some friends come from China. When I met with them, they had a gift they had promised me earlier lone. It was a nice picture of the Great Wall of China. I still hang it on my wall to this date. Besides, we had a dinner with them at a Chinese restaurant here in Kenya.

They are promoting their products and businesses together with their culture and proving a point that ‘we can work together amid our differences and that we are friends.’ That is how they have been succeeding to reach to the remotest parts of the world.

Are we learning from them anything? Let’s explore this topic further in our part 2 next week.



Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at
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