The Stevie Awards Blog

Bridging the Culture Gap: Useful Advice From a Stevie Awards Judge

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 @ 07:42 PM

Tore Claesson, a Director of U.S.-based creative agency TIO, has been sharing his time between the US and China since October 2013.  Tore was a judge for The 2014 International Business Awards, covering the Communications Awards, PR Awards, and Creative Awards categories.

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ToreWe talked to Tore about his experience of judging for the Stevie Awards and were gratified by his enthusiasm. “I think I’ve learned more from judging the Stevie Awards than from any book on creativity!” he told us.

Tore sees judging as an opportunity to peek into other professionals’ brains. As he puts it: “To see how others have solved certain business and creative problems is invaluable. It’s like a secret peek behind the curtain.”

Why China?

Tore had a pithy response to why he has been in China for the past year. “To fill a void.”

Tore explained: “There are simply no agencies focused on small and medium-sized businesses and brands that can bridge the culture gap between the U.S. and China, or Europe and China. And that applies whether a Chinese brand is going west or a Western company is trying to penetrate China.

“You either get an agency that finds a ‘partner’ in China for adaptation work, or—if you’re a Chinese company—you may go to a Chinese agency, which most likely has no experience in the nuances of US communications.

“Nuance is key to all communication. Being on the ground in China, with a mixed Western and domestic team, means we master those nuances. With an agency in New York as well as an agency in China, both cultures are a daily part of our work.”

The Importance of Social Media

Tore stressed the importance of social media in China. “One has to immerse oneself in all social media in China such as Wechat, QQ, Weibo, Youku, etc.  China may have a long way to go before it is on a par with the US and Europe on branding and marketing communications—the industry is still young in China—but in social media, which is a much newer business, they are way ahead. The West can learn from China when it comes to using social media.”

Future Judging

The Stevie Awards recently introduced the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, and the 2015 competition opens this month. (For more information on how to participate, sign up to receive an Entry Kit.)   Tore is intrigued by the possibilities of this competition and has expressed interest in judging the newly revamped and expanded entry categories.

Life in China

Since October 2013, Tore has been working in China and is based in Chengdu, Sichuan.  Tore told us, “Chengdu is China’s fourth biggest city with 14 million people, a fantastic kitchen if you like spicy food, a world famous Panda park, and Geely, which makes Volvo cars.

“Chengdu is known as the Silicon Valley of China—a real tech-hub—and Chengdu Hi-Tech Zone (CDHT) is home to 33,237 hi-tech companies, of which 1,115 companies are foreign-invested enterprises, including over 120 Fortune 500 and world-renowned companies.”

When we asked Tore what kept him inspired or excited about the future, his apt response was: “In my case it’s a curiosity to see where the road leads. I can’t stand still. Petrification is for statues!”

You can read and see more of Tore’s adventures in China on his blog or view some of the work being done in China on his LinkedIn site. His profile page links to a showcase for a Swedish company, Sveba-Dahlen, that needed a Chinese name and more.

About Tore Claesson

Tore’s background at agencies such as Ogilvy and Anderson & Lembke McCann, based in Singapore, Tokyo, and Hong Kong in Asia, and Amsterdam in Europe, in addition to his many years in New York, means that TIO has a leader that knows the ins and out of cross culture communication better than just about anybody on this small planet.

About TIO Agency

TIO is a creative agency specializing in brand strategy, market communication, advertising, and design. TIO helps businesses communicate to their stakeholders with a unique, clear, and consistent voice. To be heard in today’s over-saturated media landscape, efficient brand communication must be designed holistically to convey a unified message to internal and external stakeholders, then transmitted via multiple media.By aligning to each client’s strategic vision, TIO ensures that its work is focused on concrete marketing objectives, rather than dictated by simple creative whims or technological indulgences.

TIO was founded in 2009 by designer Norman Rabinovich and brand strategist Michael Raisanen. Its team consists of 20 creative professionals across design, strategy, communication, technology advertising, public relations, and new media. The agency is headquartered in New Canaan, Connecticut, USA, with an office in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Tags: communications awards, International business awards, PR awards, creative awards, Tore Claesson, TIO Agency

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