New Yorker Dan Mintz moved to China as a freelance film director with no contacts, no advertising experience. DMG had emerged as one of China's fastest growing advertising agencies. Mintz attributes his success in part to what the Chinese call guanxi: Guanxi means relationship and through business setting it can be better understood as connection. Guanxi has its roots in the Confucian philosophy of valuing social hierarchy and reciprocal obligations. Confucian ideology has a 2,000-year-old history in China. Confucianism stresses the importance of relationships, both within the family and between master and servant. Confucian ideology teaches that people are not created equal.
Today, Chinese will often cultivate a guanxiwang, or "relationship network," for help. Reciprocal obligations are the glue that holds such networks together. If those obligations are not met-if favors done are not paid back or reciprocated-the reputation of the transgressor is tarnished, and he or she will be less able to draw on his or her guanxiwang for help in the future. Guanxi is an important mechanism for building long-term business relationships and getting business done in China. There is a tacit acknowledgment that if you have the right guanxi, legal rules can be broken, or at least bent. Mintz established connections with two Chinese individuals with access to high ranking government officials. Who were Bing Wu and Peter Xiao. Bing Wu, who works on the production side of the business and Peter Xiao, comes from a military family with major political connections. Together, these three have been able to open doors that long-established Western advertising agencies have not. They have done it in large part by leveraging the contacts of Wu and Xiao, and by backing up their connections with what the Chinese call Shi li, the ability to do good work.
The ads used traditional Chinese characters, which had been banned by Chairman Mao. To get permission to use the characters...
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