Adidas's Rook Show Connects NBA Stars with Asian Web Surfers

And Other News in Greater China

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HONG KONG--Adidas attracted hundreds of thousands of online gamers throughout Asia over the past few weeks, with an online game platform called The Rook. National Basketball Assn. players have interacted with gamers through video and blog entries on the game site, adidas.com/therook, giving them a glimpse of the real life of an NBA star.

The campaign, developed for Adidas by OgilvyOne, Shanghai, centered around an interactive web site where consumers and fans engaged with Adidas's top six basketball stars: Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Chauncey Billups and Gilbert Arenas. The Rook was also integrated into the German sportswear company's adidasbasketball.com web site. Within days of the launch in late November, the site attracted over 2 million unique visitors. By the end of December, it had generated 6.4 million hits, and 80% of the traffic originated in mainland China.

In addition to player blogs and videos, users in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines enrolled in a weekly "gamisode" contest that gave them a feel for what it's like to be in the NBA. The winner of the final competition in each country will be sent to New Orleans to watch the NBA All-Star Game. The game offered rewards to other game players such as discount vouchers and free gifts.

"We took gamers on a first-person journey through a rookie year in the NBA with the likes of Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady mentoring and giving advice along the way, inspiring them to achieve their impossible," said Marcus Spurrell, Adidas's head of digital marketing, Asia/Pacific, in Hong Kong.

"The Rook was an absolute key initiative for our digital strategy in Asia/Pacific. It brought Adidas and our partner, the NBA, together in a way that gave our consumers a uniquely engaging face-to-face experience with all our iconic NBA athletes," he added.


GM moves Cadillac creative to McCann Erickson
SHANGHAI--Shanghai GM, the joint venture between General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC), has moved the creative account for its Cadillac division to McCann Erickson, without a review.

The Shanghai office of the Interpublic Group of Cos.' agency also handles creative for SGM's Chevrolet brand. McCann has the U.S. automaker's Cadillac accounts in Japan, Canada, Columbia and Venezuela, as well as the Holden brand in Australia, said Garry Neel, CEO of McCann Erickson Detroit, Mich. and global account director on GM at the agency.

"Shanghai GM didn't call for any pitch. It was our existing relationship and most importantly performance on Chevrolet business that worked in our advantage," added Pratik Thakar, McCann Worldgroup's exec VP-chief planning officer, China in Shanghai.

Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett, Shanghai, was the incumbent and introduced Cadillac in China in fall 2004 with a major TV and billboard blitz. ZenithOptimedia will continue to handle media planning and buying for the Cadillac brand in China.

"This time, McCann went with the idea of not looking at Cadillac as just another car brand, and instead ride on the current boom in the overall luxury market of China, in which luxury cars are growing at a double-digit growth rate," Mr. Thakar said.

To handle the Cadillac account in China, McCann has launched its internal luxury marketing division, LuxuryBox, in Shanghai. LuxuryBox already exists in London, Milan, New York and Paris. Tiffany & Co is the division's other founding client in China.

"Globally, both brands are true symbols of luxury. This is the right time to bring [LuxuryBox] to Shanghai, as we look into the evolving nature of luxury consumers from ethnographer's eye and it translates into brand strategy and creative expressions. It also reaches out to key trend-creators to lead the new dimension of Chinese luxury," T.H. Peng, McCann's Hong Kong-based CEO-area director, Greater China told AdAgeChina.

Earlier this month, GM reported record annual sales in China of 1,031,974 vehicles, with Buick brand leading the way at 322,115 units. Cadillac sold 7,022 vehicles in China last year, a 148% jump from 2006.

GM's Chinese sales performance in 2007 made it the first global automaker to sell one million vehicles in China in a single year. Shanghai GM also retained its status as China's leader in passenger car sales among joint ventures, while its SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture ended the year as China's leader in mini-vehicle sales for the second straight year.

McCann and Leo Burnett have tussled over the carmaker's business globally. In the U.S., McCann lost its longstanding Buick national creative account to Burnett, Chicago last year without a review in a consolidation move.
--By Jean Halliday in Detroit and Normandy Madden in Hong Kong


Ad spending around Beijing Olympics will break past records
HONG KONG--With China hosting this year's games, the Olympics is set to break all previous broadcasting and advertising records.

"The media sectors' experiences in Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004 revealed consistently high double digit increases in ad spending during each host nation's Olympic year," said Richard Basil-Jones, managing director, Asia/Pacific at Nielsen Media Research.

Given that China's ad spending has been escalating by about 20% annually over the past three years, "the outlook for China's media in 2008 could easily exceed all expectations," he said.

"It became evident that the entertainment value of the main ceremonies could not compete with the massive interest surrounding events with Chinese athletes or teams competing," said Mr. Basil-Jones. "Online is another area where the games will have tremendous leverage, riding on the fast up-take of the internet among Chinese consumers and the double digit growth of the online advertising market in 2007."


Wunderman acquires Asian interactive agency Agenda
HONG KONG--WPP Group's Wunderman, part of Young and Rubicam Brands, has acquired Asian interactive marketing agency Agenda Corp., which has offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, and Kuala Lumpur.

Agenda will provide Wunderman with online strategy, web development and management, online advertising, and analysis for its clients in Asia. Founded in 1996, Agenda works with advertisers in Greater China such as PepsiCo, Prudential, Citibank, Carrefour, Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft.


Dentsu and Focus Media establish internet agency joint venture
SHANGHAI--Dentsu Group, Japan's biggest agency, and Hua Kuang Advertising, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China's multimedia advertising company Focus Media, have established a jointly-owned internet advertising agency, Digit Ones Co. The new company will integrate Dentsu's internet advertising businesses in China.

By the end of last year, China had an estimated 210 million internet users, with a growth rate topping 50%. The number of broadband users was estimated at 163 million people. Against this background of rapid market growth, Dentsu hopes to grow digitally by consolidating internet business handled by the group's three major agencies in China--Beijing Dentsu Advertising Co., Beijing Oriental Rihai Advertising Co. and Shanghai Oriental Partner Advertising Co.--into a single specialist unit.

Focus Media is already China's leading digital-media player, operating the largest out-of-home advertising network in China using audiovisual digital displays. Focus will have a one-third stake share in Digit Ones, and Dentsu will have two-thirds.


Star rolls out second Chinese film channel
HONG KONG--News Corp.'s Hong Kong-based Star Group has launched Star Chinese Movies 2, it second channel dedicated to Chinese motion pictures from the 1970's through 1990's. Films on the channels feature actors like Jet Li, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Stephen Chow and Chow Yun Fat and filmmakers such as John Woo, Johnny To and Tsui Hark. The channel debuts in Singapore on StarHub Digital Cable on Jan. 25 and in North America on KyLinTV's IPTV platform on Feb. 1.


AdvertisingPlaza launches virtual market for advertising
HONG KONG--AdvertisingPlaza has launched a Hong Kong-based regional virtual marketplace for advertisers via a free-to-use online platform, www.advertisingplaza.com. Offerings range from TV and print ads to ambush marketing opportunities.

For buyers, AdvertisingPlaza offers a database and tools to create a promotional campaign. Buyers can tailor a program based on budget, media type, target audience, location and duration and AdvertisingPlaza will present options offering the best prices available.

The site "gives buyers and sellers complete control over the choice and execution of their advertising activities," said AdvertisingPlaza's Hong Kong-based managing director, Lucien Harrington. Before founding the company, he was head of marketing for Disney in Asia/Pacific.

"In the digital world, we have seen dramatic shifts in the way people buy and consume their entertainment as we move from a linear consumption experience to a world in which the consumer is king. AdvertisingPlaza extends this trend into the world of advertising, putting buyers and sellers in complete control of the process at every stage, from the comfort of their own workplace."

The company is working with local and regional titles in Asia, including the South China Morning Post, The Economist, Hong Kong Tatler, Cosmopolitan, Automobile and Harpers Bazaar.

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