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Member Spotlight - September Edition

ACBC ( NSW ) Member Spotlight: 5 Minutes With Michael MacRitchie, Founder and Managing partner of  MGI International Artists and MGI Entertainment

 

1. Tell us about your business and how you've leveraged your Australia-China connections to build your success in China?

MGI is a marketing consultancy.  We help businesses build their brands and improve their market penetration.  We do this by creating and managing transactions between celebrities and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLS) and institutions.

Sometimes a business will have a new product that they wish to promote and we’ll find a celebrity that fits the product and its promotional goals. It often takes the shape of a traditional endorsement or a KOL strategy, but we are flexible and open in our thinking and don’t pursue a one-size fits all solutions.  Other times a celebrity will come to us with a project they want to create and we’ll match them with a business that shares their values and create a partnership between them and the business.

For example, General Motors approached us to help promote the Cadillac brand. We enlisted the help of Brad Pitt to be Cadillac’s China brand ambassador across a traditional and new media advertising campaign. In addition to this, we built a KOL campaign that was launched simultaneously; 50 Chinese influencers were engaged to facilitate test drives. The result was successful and Cadillac experienced a 40% improvement in sales.

We try to remain platform and geographically agnostic and focus on both the hard and soft goals of both parties to form partnerships that will be mutually beneficial and sustainable.  

While I have been in China we have seen the economy grow 6 times to become the second largest consumer market in the world. MGI has had some massive wins and we have learnt along the way. Now we can help Australian and international clients avoid the mistakes that new companies make when they enter the China market.

2. What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?

I spend about 30% of my day talking to clients and professional contacts listening to what they are working on, what challenges they are facing, and how I might help them.  

The balance of my day is spent managing our portfolio of on-going projects and transactions.  But days do vary.

I can’t overstate the importance of being organized when doing business in China; opportunities arise faster in China than anywhere else I’ve worked.  This becomes more important when you have dual offices.  I spend most of my time in our Shanghai office but am now spending more time in Sydney, my home town, which I enjoy.

Currently we are working with Chinese celebrities and KOLs in the sports and entertainment space to develop proprietary entertainment projects. Mass market global brands are looking to craft non-traditional celebrity endorsements and ambassadorships and media campaigns for mid-market Australian brands that are purpose built for China’s urban-commerce market.  

3. What would you say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business in/with China?

a. Respect the local culture

b. Avoid local partners who make big promises

c. Employ great people who are all interest-aligned

d. Patience

e. Capital

You need discipline, tenacity and patience to make it anywhere but more so in China. It can take a while. 

While China might still trail the West in per-capital income it is one of the most capital intensive environments in the world to do business.   

4. How do you go about marketing your business in Australia/China and what has contributed to this success?

 Referrals from happy clients are very important.

 I find forums such as ACBC very useful in marketing my business. The platform also enables Australians to work with a company that understands the Chinese and Australian markets.

MGI has great people. We have built a strong team in Shanghai with a robust local Chinese and global team. When you have great people and you show them you have their back no matter what. They will believe in you and the work will speak for its self.

We are successful because we provide great service and results for our clients. 

5. You have been very successful to date, but there no doubt have been challenges. What's been the biggest challenge that you have overcome in your business journey with China?

All business advisors tell you that you need a Chinese partner. Everyone you meet claims to be well connected and claim to even know the President. They often expect to take the lion’s share of the joint venture even though you are doing the work and they won’t know the President.

We structured our company with a holding company in Hong Kong and established a WOFE – a wholly owned foreign entity. We now have an Australian entity based in Sydney.

After 14 years working in Shanghai, we have built up excellent contacts with business and government.

6. What's your motto/mantra?

Get there first, go home last, and always hold the door open for the person behind you.