Creative considerations for APAC audiences

Jamie Crick, Managing Director, APAC and Jasmine Xie, Associate Art Director , 02.24.23

02.24.23 Jamie Crick, Managing Director, APAC and Jasmine Xie, Associate Art Director

In a highly diverse region, how should marketers approach adapting Western-originating creative for APAC audiences?

It goes without saying that the APAC region is diverse. Consisting of over 25 countries, the region is home to 4.6 billion people, with sometimes wide variations in cultural norms, technology and platform adoption, disposable income levels, and many other factors. For example, India alone is home to 22 official languages with over 1,600 languages and dialects in current usage. With all these factors, what should marketers focus most on when adapting creative that originated from Western markets for countries in the region?


The first and most obvious consideration is language. While it's important to ensure creative assets are translated accurately for each market, it's not always best practice to translate from English, particularly when advertising an English-language originating brand or product. 

  • In countries like Singapore, English is widely spoken and it's often more appropriate to leave copy, graphics and subtitles in English. 

  • In other countries translating into the local language is a must. It can even be appropriate to use both in the same creative, such as a mix of English and Tagalog for Filipino audiences.

  • Direct translations won't always make idiomatic sense in the target language. In some instances, the best choice may be to leave a line untranslated, revise it per local idiom, or even remove it entirely.

  • For video creative, understanding how each market prefers to consume Western content will affect the use of subtitles. For example, viewers in Asian countries prefer watching content in the original language with subtitles in their own language. This is in contrast to Europe, where dubbed audio tracks are preferred.

Cultural values, tone & humour

Knowledge of cultural values is also critical. While the content of a TV show or movie is more or less set for all markets, the scenes and scenarios you select to highlight in your advertising creative is not. This can manifest in what not to show as much as what to bring to the forefront. Humour isn't universal; while it can be an effective way to engage with audiences, it can be tricky to get right in different markets. Tone can be equally important, with some markets preferring a more formal tone and others a more playful one. As always, sensitivity is important.


Visuals play a crucial role in advertising creative assets, so it's important to consider the use of colour, imagery, and symbols that resonate with each market. For example, red is a lucky colour in China but associated with danger in other cultures. Examples for entertainment brands include featuring any local talent from the cast to best connect with local audiences when selecting imagery. If that isn't an option, feature internationally-recognisable talent, first researching how well-known they are in the territory. Also consider tapping into recognisable local entertainment tropes, such as a clip of two characters running to meet in the middle of the scene, which is familiar to viewers of Hindi movies and will resonate with Indian audiences.


Messaging and calls to action vary between markets, for example:

  • Featuring price points and discounts can be highly effective in India. We tested this for an SVOD client and found the click-through rate was 37% lower and cost per sign-up 145% higher on ads without price point messaging.

  • Acclaim is best used when coming from local publications or, if not available, mainstream international sources.


Paid media won't necessarily run on the same platforms as it does in Western markets. Platforms like Line, which is popular in several Asian countries,  have their own creative best practices.Even when Western platforms are in wide usage in your target country, they may be used differently. For example, in Japan Facebook is generally used for business networking, much as LinkedIn is in other markets.

In summary

AGM's expert creative team, including our in-market APAC creative leads, produce assets for diverse audiences across the globe. As an integrated agency, our creatives work hand-in-hand with colleagues across the entire paid, earned, and owned media spectrum to ensure the optimal - and most effective - messages get to the right audiences, whoever they are, wherever they are, and however they consume media.

What next?

We're always around to talk through how AGM approaches creative on a global, regional, national, and local basis, and how that might be relevant to you and your business. Get in touch with us here.

Find out what we can do for you