According to Neilsen/ SRG, 36 per cent of TV viewers in Vietnam’s
economic capital, Ho Chi Minh City, actually enjoy television
commercials. Strange, you might think, but it’s just one of the symptoms
of the unquenchable thirst that Vietnamese people have developed for
information since the country first opened up to the outside world in
the early 90s.
Since then, the standard of living has risen in the principal urban
markets of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Hanoi, Cantho, Danang and
Haiphong, which have a combined population of about 15 million.
This has gone hand in hand with rising consumer expectations - and a
dramatic escalation in the quantity and quality of advertising.
At dollars 2,200 for a prime-time, 30-second spot on national
television, and with televisions averaging at more than 90 per cent
penetration in urban households, TV is one of the most economical forms
of mass media for advertisers.
TV ads have also become much more sophisticated over the past two years.
At first, creative work produced for other Asian markets was dubbed
’good enough for Vietnam’. But it was a costly error, and clients that
have taken the plunge by using the few in-country production houses to
produce creative specifically for Vietnam have, in contrast, had
enormous success generating awareness of their brands.
Media in Vietnam is still 100 per cent state controlled, and it has been
a painstakingly difficult process to educate the country on the
importance of ads. For instance, teaching people that press ads do not
run upside down; or that TV spots have to run within at least one hour
of the original booking time. It takes an awful long time to explain why
not just half of the outdoor sites should go up, or why it is not
advisable to run ten minutes of different shampoo ads all together.
Such unfortunate situations are gradually being eradicated, although a
serious advertising backlash happened last January. All foreign brands
that were displayed on signage, posters or any other outdoor media were
destroyed, painted over, covered or simply ransacked during a five-week
blitz on the orders of the government. Later, this was ascribed simply
to a ’misinterpretation’ in the government’s rather vague decree.
Monitoring of competitive spend in Vietnam exists for television
It is a rating points system that has only been in place for ten months
and covers just the two major markets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Press monitoring only began in January.
Robert Schwetz is in account management for Bates Worldwide in Ho Chi
Population Estimated 72 million
Cost of 30-second, prime-time national TV spot dollars 2,200
Cost of full-page, full-colour national dollars 3,600 in Saigon Gai
Total adspend dollars 100 million (1996 estimate)
TV penetration Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) 89%; Hanoi 91% (both figures,