Everything is possible

Is it? According to Chinese behemoth Tencent it is. Janet Hull, IPA Director of Marketing Strategy and Co-Producer of Createch 2018 lifts the lid on the internet colossus and the UK advertising industry’s burgeoning relationship with them.

Up until recently, Tencent wasn’t a brand name anybody in the UK was really talking about.

But Createch 2018, organised for the UK Creative Industries Council, to foster international trade and economic growth in areas where creativity meets technology, has changed all that.

Corporate VP Steven Chang introduced Tencent in a keynote to a packed room at Code Node, on the second day of London Technology Week, and if the queue of people seeking an audience with him was anything to go buy, he succeeded in making an impression.

So what is Tencent?

Quite simply, the most innovative technology platform from China; ranked fourth for global innovation in the 2018 Fast Company league table alongside Apple, Amazon and Netflix; and now bigger than Facebook in turnover.

In China, Tencent is giant. It soon will be here too.

With a portfolio of products and services which span both B2B and B2C, Tencent likes to talk to the acronym A, B, C to explain the span of its business portfolio: standing for Artificial Intelligence, which it uses at scale for its programmatic advertising business, Business Systems and Cloud Computing.

Tencent is now the world’s biggest computer games manufacturer, and in China the biggest provider of online entertainment, including movies and TV series which it buys rights to on the international market. It also owns the eponymous We Chat mobile payment system, and is working with China’s Government to develop a one-stop shop for all Government services in China.

Tencent has big pockets and high aspirations. It co-funded Blue Planet with the BBC, owns shares in WhatsApp, and won a Cannes Lion last year for its work with facial recognition.

Not surprising then, given its exponential growth in the last five years, that its corporate mission statement is ‘Everything is possible’. And that means going global too.

Tencent recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UK Government, at a special ceremony in Whitehall, and such is its importance to the growth of exports and inward investment into the UK economy, that Minister of State Dr Liam Fox is project managing the relationship.

The early focus of its work with the UK is going to be in health sciences and cultural projects. But it will not stop there.

At the MOU signing the IPA were invited to present the UK’s advertising credentials, and featured case presentations from three IPA member agencies: adam&eveDDB, Essence and Imagination, demonstrating how UK agencies work with technology platforms to a) service client business, b) provide business services and c) build brand profile.

Conversations are now ongoing with the Tencent management team.

Nor is it the first time the IPA have met Tencent. The IPA appeared on the same platform as Tencent at the International Advertising Festival in October 2017; and again at the inaugural Shanghai International Advertising Festival in March 2018.

As the IPA programme for the AA and DIT under the Promote UK banner expands, so too does the IPA role in business development for the UK in a post-Brexit world will grow in importance – with China taking centre stage.

Plans are already underway to take a delegation of UK agencies and production companies to Shanghai in March 2019 for further exploration of the exponential growth of this exciting market, and the key players involved in bringing this about.


Janet Hull, Co-Producer Createch 2018, Chair AA/DIT Promote UK Group and IPA Director of Marketing Strategy

For more information, contact Janet Hull

Last updated 21 January 2022