Coke launches online tournament

And other news in Greater China

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CHENGDU--As part of an ongoing effort to raise its image among young Chinese, Coca-Cola Co. launched its first iCoke gaming tournament last week in China, one of the world’s most active online gaming markets.

The nationwide tournament will be held in several thousand “net cafés” in over 100 cities across China. It includes three of the most popular games in the mainland, World of Warcraft, Counter Strike and Freestyle Basketball. The competition will last four months and winners of the China tournament will win a trip to New York City, where they will compete with the world's top players at the Digital Life Pro/Am Tournament this September.

The Chinese tournament was developed by Coca-Cola’s interactive agency, AKQA, and the Global Gaming League (GGL), an American gaming operator specializing in the organization and management of competitive online and live video game tournaments.

It launched during ChinaSoft 2007, an information technology exposition that took place in Chengdu, with a “machinima” music video entitled “The Unknown Warrior." Also created by AKQA, the video features the tournament's theme song. Machinima, a word formed by combining the words “machine” and “cinema,” is a new filmmaking method created by compiling and manipulating existing video game characters and environments into a digital, virtual film. The lead female character in the video is an “avatar,” or computer representation, of the theme song's singer, Wang Rong, a student of Sichuan Conservatory of Music.

“By combining the excitement of gaming and the dynamism of the new medium, AKQA presents new possibilities in the digital age to the Chinese audience,” said Ho Chee Yue, AKQA's regional director for Asia in Singapore. The potential of the new medium in China is “immense. China has the world's second-largest internet population and the Chinese are known to be one of the fastest applicants of new media.”

Shenzhen Airlines appoints Newsun/ JWT
GUANGZHOU--Shenzhen Airlines has appointed Newsun/JWT in Guangzhou, a joint venture between Newsun Insight Advertising Co. and JWT, in which the WPP Group agency holds a 30% stake. The win followed a pitch that included the incumbent, ADK, a joint venture in Guangzhou between the Japanese creative agency ADK and Guangdong Advertising Corp., a state-owned agency in southern China.

The domestic budget airline, which is based in southern China’s Guangdong province near Hong Kong, is aggressively building its service and scale as China’s tourism industry starts to take off. It has operated flights through Hong Kong International Airport to cities in mainland China . In October 2006, the airline started international flights to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Cheong Ju, South Korea.

Shenzhen Airline “wants to be a low-cost airline with Chinese characteristics. They will not compete directly with the biggest traditional airlines in price but by providing a really different flying experience,” said James Wong, New Sun/JWT’s managing director in Guangzhou. He said that includes “high efficiency and a sensational service experience for customers.”

Synovate Strikes Global Panel Partnership with GMI
HONG KONG--Synovate, a Hong Kong-based global research company owned by Aegis Group, has partnered with Global Market Insite (GMI), a panel and market research software provider specializing in online research based in Seattle, Wash.

Online research accounts for just over 15% of total custom research today, said Synovate's global CEO in Hong Kong, Adrian Chedore. “The growth rate is phenomenal, not just in the most developed markets of the world, but also in many emerging economies too.”

DDB wins creative for upcoming World Financial Centre in Beijing
BEIJING--Henderson Land Development Co., a Hong Kong-based real estate conglomerate, has appointed DDB Guoan Communications, a joint venture between DDB Worldwide and Beijing Guoan Advertising Corp., to handle creative for Beijing's World Financial Centre (WFC).

The agency will develop an integrated campaign for the development, a two-tower project that will be completed next year, for outdoor, print and online media. The appointment followed a pitch against Saatchi & Saatchi and JWT.

Sports marketing agency rEvolution enters China with eye on Olympic Games
CHICAGO--Companies looking for opportunities to capitalize on corporate interest in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing are springing into action.

A Chicago-based sports marketing agency, rEvolution, is launching The Pinnacle Club, a hospitality center that will give executives a meeting place in a country where business relationships are an integral part of corporate culture.

The Pinnacle Club concept will be available to corporate clients as an add-on hospitality option, in addition to ticket packages already purchased through official sources such as Jet Set Sports. It will be located near the Beijing National Stadium, home to the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the Olympic Green, the location for many Olympic venues.

"Sports marketing programs, because of their cross-cultural appeal, are one of the few communication tools that will help corporations establish an ongoing marketing effort in China," said George Pollington, rEvolution's VP, business development in Chicago.

“With the National Basketball Association projecting that retail sales in China are expected to rise by more than 50% this year, China will rapidly emerge as a robust market for sports and sponsorship well after the Olympics. Our clients are demanding a new direction in corporate hospitality, not only for the Olympics, but for all major sporting events."

Olympic sponsors shifting to a corporate hospitality program include Bank of America, the official bank of the '08 U.S. Olympic team, which has set up a hospitality site for U.S. Olympians and their families called the China Lounge, and Adidas, the event’s official sportswear partner.

Li Ning to launch new sportswear brand
BEIJING--China’s leading sportswear marketer, Li Ning Co., plans to launch a new brand aimed at the inexpensive end of China’s sports goods market. The Beijing-based company has not disclosed the name of the new brand, but indicated it will be sold in retail chains like Carrefour.

Li Ning, the leading local sportswear company in China, saw sales of Li-Ning branded products grow 35.7% in 2006, in year-on-year terms, to $410 million. But the company faces pressure from global rivals such as Nike and Adidas, as well as other local brands. Sales of Li-Ning footwear products grew 48.3% last year, following the launch of the company’s “Flying Armor” series of basketball shoes and “Flying Feather” running shoes. Sales of apparel products, meanwhile, increased 30.7%, and accessories, 15.3%.

China Mobile appoints O&M for GoTone service
BEIJING--China Mobile Communications Corp., China's largest mobile service operator, has appointed Ogilvy & Mather in Beijing as the national creative agency for GoTone, one of its three consumer brands. Ogilvy already handles China Mobile's youth brand, M-Zone, at the national level. Previously, Grey Global Group, Beijing, handled the account. China Mobile's customer base exceeds 300 million users, making it the world’s largest mobile service provider, in terms of network scale and customer base.
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