Wife In Beijing Countdown: T-minus 1 day!
Yesterday afternoon, I was asked to fill in at the last minute for a media buying pitch to a major U.S. car brand that's looking to make a splash in China.
Now, my background is as a copywriter on the creative side, not media buying. But this coworker wanted me to just talk in general about the value and potential of online marketing and talk up some high-level strategic ideas they had developed. I know just enough to be dangerous, so I said sure, be glad to help.
But then I started to pick up on some things. For example, when this coworker (also Caucasian, by the way)introduced me to the woman leading the pitch, he did so by saying "As you can see, he's tall and white." This was a joke, but still...
I got the impression that the woman on the pitch wanted high-level people involved to show the potential client our depth and how serious we were. She asked about my title - Associate Creative Director - and how much experience I had in automotive or related fields - none. It was already understood that I am not a media buyer. Not too promising, right? But she came back a couple minutes later and said yes, we need you to come.
I met them at the potential client's office, and I could tell she was still not too sure about me - "Have you been in front of a client? In China?" Yes, I said I had. Later: "Just try to sound important." (Meant more in reference to position in the company, but still not a huge boost.)
We got in and set up. I had seen and made edits to the slides I would present, but I hadn't seen the rest of the presentation, other than over a shoulder, so I knew it was in English.
There was some conversation between my Chinese coworkers and the Chinese individuals we were presenting to. Our presentation leader leaned over to me.
"Change of plans," she said. "The man from America can't make the meeting. So we're doing it in Chinese."
Ahhhhh. Now it made sense. I was the token white guy, there to make the American comfortable. So I sat through the next hour and 27 minutes of the hour-and-a-half meeting not understanding a word (although I was able to read the slides, at least) and then had to do a VERY abbreviated version of my slides since everyone needed to leave at 10:30. All in all it was fine, just another new experience here in China!
IN OTHER NEWS
THEY'LL NEVER SUSPECT ME:
I was finally given access to the servers at work yesterday, and as I was looking around in one of the folders, I found this (the highlighting is actually as it appears on the network):
If you can't see that, it's a folder containing the Linkin Park album Minutes to Midnight, for which I mentioned some time ago a coworker of mine has great, ongoing, unabated enthusiasm.
And now I know where the files are hosted.
And they don't know I know.
What to do? Perhaps I should ask this little red-clad fellow with the pitchfork who is sitting on my left shoulder...