China Unicom launches 156 premium mobile service

Other news in Greater China

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BEIJING--China Unicom is going after market leader China Mobile’s dominant position in the mainland’s mobile phone market by appealing to its highest-earning, and highest-spending subscribers.

China’s No. 2 mobile service provider has launched 156, a premium service aimed at sophisticated, urban mobile phone users. While it is formally a part of China Unicom's existing Shijiefeng (“Worldwind” in English) brand, the 156 service offering is a significant departure from China Unicom’s existing mobile service packages.

China Unicom developed the service in collaboration with Omnicom Group’s TBWA Worldwide office in Beijing, which also handled creative for the marketing campaign. TBWA’s sibling agencies, direct marketing arm Tequila and, an interactive shop, handled below-the-line and online support, respectively.

Mobile phone packages in China normally include varying numbers of free minutes and SMS or text messages for a monthly fee. But 156 gives consumers the opportunity to cherry pick the services they want, such as the ability to make and receive long distance calls, global roaming, and multimedia MMS messaging service. They can even choose their own phone number.

“People in China have a lot of choices when they go out looking for a mobile plan. In fact, there's almost too much choice,” said Jeremy Sy, TBWA’s Beijing-based head of planning in China.

“Chinese urbanites have become quite sophisticated mobile users, and many are frustrated that they can't customize their mobile service to better suit their specific lifestyles. The 156 service is designed to disrupt the market to address this opportunity. In effect, everyone gets a service package that's customized to their specific needs.”

China Unicom announced the launch of the service with two TV spots. Filmed to mimic modern Chinese movies, each execution features a 156 subscriber expressing his feelings towards his much-evolved, much-improved mobile phone.

“Because 156 makes mobile service personalized, it makes the mobile phone much more than just a phone. For some, it becomes an invaluable business partner. For others, it becomes a buddy. This is the idea we ran with in the advertising,” said Hwang Chien, TBWA’s exec creative director, China in Beijing. They agency also created print, outdoor and in-store ads based on the same strategy, but the executions mimic different styles of graffiti.

Pre-launch activities for 156 began in mid-September, with the launch of a web site where consumers could pre-register for lucky phone numbers. Traffic was driven to the site by in-store and on-the-street promotions.

Soho Square wins Reebok business in Asia
HONG KONG--Reebok ended a regional pitch for its creative business in Asia this month by appointing the Hong Kong office of Soho Square, a boutique agency based in New York that is part of WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather network. Soho Square will support Reebok’s regional and local teams, producing creative and strategic recommendations for Asia, including traditional
advertising, digital, retail and public relations assignments.

The regional pitch process is rooted in the acquisition of Reebok by the German sports goods maker Adidas-Salomon for $3.8 billion, announced in 2005 and completed last year. Marketing for Adidas as well as Reebok is managed in Asia by Hong Kong-based Christophe Bezu, senior VP, Asia/Pacific. The Reebok brand specifically is handled by Pascal Aymar, Reebok’s VP-marketing, Asia/Pacific in Hong Kong.

M&C Saatchi launches BOC Olympic credit card
SHANGHAI--Olympic sponsor Bank of China has appointed M&C Saatchi to launch a series of Visa cards with Olympic-related designs. The card design is based on the concept of a Chinese chop, or stamp, and comes in the five colors related to the colors of the Olympic rings. The card will be promoted in Shanghai through the end of the year in print, mass-transit and ambient media executions.

Edelman acquires Pegasus Communications
BEIJING--Daniel J. Edelman Inc. Group, the parent company of the public relations firm Edelman, has taken a majority stake in a Chinese marketing communications firm, Pegasus Communications. With offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, Pegasus handles consumer marketing, public relations, events, advertising and design, and provides financial communications for local companies listed in mainland China.

Ikea moves to five mini catalogs in China, a possible global trend
SHANGHAI--Faithful Ikea consumers around the world look forward to the Swedish retailer’s new fall catalog every year, attracted to its inspiring home furnishing ideas.

In China, however, the company is experimenting with a new approach. Instead of putting out one large annual catalog, it will issue five small ones throughout the year. Each catalog will feature a different theme, such as bedrooms, for example, or kitchens. If the concept is successful in China, Ikea may expand the idea to other markets.

It is marketing the new catalogs with ads running in TV, print and digital media developed by Euro RSCG, Shanghai, using the tagline, ”It’s Ikea time.” The creative encourages consumers to look for the new catalogs, “because research indicates that not many [Chinese] people check their mailbox on a daily basis. Thus, they don’t know that the 'multilog' has arrived,” said Eddie Wong, Euro’s exec creative director, Greater China in Shanghai.

CSM PeopleMeter data to be distributed via mobile phone
BEIJING--The Chinese TV and radio audience measurement supplier CSM Media Research, a joint venture between CTR Market Research and the TNS Group, has launched a new InfoSysEXEC software tool. It enables next-day rating access via mobile phone across 49 markets measured by PeopleMeter households across China and Hong Kong. The platform also allows marketers to analyze data recorded by CSM based on demographics, markets, channels, programs as well as viewing habits of audience profiles on their own personal mobile devices.

Avis hires Rapp Collins in China
SHANGHAI--The U.S. car rental agency Avis has appointed DDB Worldwide’s Rapp Collins division to handle below-the-line marketing initiatives in China. Rapp Collins has worked with Avis in Europe but this is their first collaboration in China. “Avis is the only international car rental company operating in China. However, we know that this will not always be the case so we are going to make the most of our head start with a combination of awareness building and database marketing activity,” said David King, managing director of Rapp Collins in Shanghai.

Synovate China launches online survey eNation
SHANGHAI--Synovate has launched a twice-monthly China online survey, eNation, as an extension to the market research company’s global and regional omnibus surveys. A pay-per-question service in China, eNation will survey 1,000 consumers, aged 18 to 49, across China's key cities--Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou--every two weeks. The online survey will have the capability to show text, visuals, video and audio.

“Our domestic and overseas clients have expressed much interest in finding out more about Chinese consumers' tastes, habits and attitudes,” said Synovate’s CEO China, Darryl Andrew in Shanghai. “As an online survey, there is more space for interactivity and it has the added advantage of convenience. People can fill it out when it suits them.”
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