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Lenovo Hands Olympic Torch to Ad Execs in China

By Published on .

SHANGHAI -- The ultimate status symbol in China today is to be an Olympic torch bearer, and advertising executives are rushing to get into the relay, now wending its way through the country before ending up at the opening ceremony in Beijing Aug. 8.
Tom Doctoroff carrying the Olympic torch.
Tom Doctoroff carrying the Olympic torch.
Some torch-bearer slots are being handed out by Lenovo, one of three sponsors of the torch relay along with Coca-Cola Co. and Samsung, to foreigners who the Chinese computer maker believes have contributed to Chinese society. Lenovo picked Tom Doctoroff, an American who is China CEO and area director for Northeast Asia at JWT, Lenovo's ad agency. Mr. Doctoroff carried the Olympic flame about 100 yards in Shanghai last weekend, a feat that is now on YouTube.

Next up are two execs at Ogilvy & Mather, another Lenovo agency. Kaiser Kuo, a Chinese-American who is group director of digital strategy at Ogilvy, will carry the torch June 2 in Jingzhou. Mr. Kuo, who was lead guitarist for China's first heavy metal band, Tang Dynasty, will be joined by T.B. Song, Ogilvy's chairman for Greater China.

Lenovo also picked torch bearers in a contest done with newspaper China Daily, in which people nominated themselves and were chosen by voters online. The contest rapidly led to e-mails flying around China as would-be torch bearers lobbied for votes. The list of 100 finalists included a Malaysian, Peter Tan, national director of consumer insight and market intelligence at McCann Worldgroup in Shanghai, and a Beijing-based American, Dan Brody, VP-business development at the YouTube-like online video portal Tudou.com.
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