At a party for Tom Doctoroff’s book about China, Bloomberg says America should look in the mirror

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Tom Doctoroff. (Dan Rosenblum)
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Last night, over a hundred people showed up at a book launch party to celebrate advertising executive Tom Doctoroff’s new book on China. One of those people was his brother's boss, Michael Bloomberg. 

Tom's brother is Dan Doctoroff, the former deputy mayor of economic development who left to head the mayor’s company, Bloomberg L.P., in early 2008. Dan mingled with the crowd in the Midtown offices of J. Walter Thompson, along with representatives of the company's clients including Rolex, Macy’s and Diageo and, briefly, Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan.

Tom, 49, who has worked at the firm for nearly 20 years, heads the company's China operations. He got an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and went into advertising “because it was about insights.” He eventually moved from Chicago to Hong Kong, then to Shanghai. Tom Doctoroff (whose brother, as deputy mayor, tried to bring the 2012 Olympics to New York City) was a torchbearer in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“It’s just been an intellectually stimulating past decade that I’ve enjoyed quite a bit,” he said.

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His book, What Chinese Want, is his second on marketing in China, and looks at the country from a consumerist prespective. It’s a field manual, of sorts, for marketers looking to make inroads into China.

In an excerpt posted on the Huffington Post, it is explained that many of the same products can sell in China if they’re sold in the Confucian context of stability, progress and society. For example, according to his book, “McDonald's restaurants, temples of childhood delight in the West, have morphed into scholastic playgrounds in China.”

Doctoroff said it’s hard to generalize about a country of 1.3 billion people without devolving into ethnic stereotypes. But, he said, “I think as long as you don’t convey cultural arrogance, you’re OK. And I find that my friendliest audiences tend to be mainland Chinese.”

At one point, Dan Doctoroff introduced the mayor, who stood with one foot on the stage, partially obscured by bamboo in a red bucket. He credited Bloomberg’s leadership, vision and willingness to ignore critics.

“I hope all of you would agree that in about, what 570 days...” Doctoroff said.

Bloomberg cut him off: “581.” 

Bloomberg took the stage.

“I keep saying in this city, where the press is rushing to blame China for every mistake that we make, from our economic policy, our immigration policy, to our education policy, we blame China for all of that rather than looking in the mirror and realizing that we are the problem,” he said.

Bloomberg, who is also a bit of a writer, in an as-told-to kind of way, joked he read the first chapter of Doctoroff's book, and predicted a sequel.

“I am sure I’ll be joining you here in a couple of years for your next book, which may be called What Bloomberg Wants,” he said.