Coke Olympic ads blanket Beijing

And other news in Greater China

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BEIJING--Coca-Cola Co. is tapping into celebrations surrounding the one-year countdown to the start of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, which will begin on Aug. 8, 2008, with the largest outdoor campaign ever to run in China.

The U.S. beverage giant has blitzed Beijing, China’s capital and the location of most events for the next summer games, with more than 50 poster designs appearing in 2,008 bus shelters around the city, taking up about half of the city's total bus shelter ad space.

Ads began appearing around the city on Aug. 1, but the campaign launched officially on Aug. 7, in a ceremony attended by China’s most famous athletes, basketball player Yao Ming, a center with the Houston Rockets, and track-and-field star and Olympic gold medal winner Liu Xiang.

The pair unveiled Coke’s first Olympic souvenir pin made with leftover steel from construction of Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” national stadium, one of the winners in a national pin design contest that drew over 1,000 submissions.

Coke’s “One Year Out” campaign is built around the word shuang, which means physical, emotional and spiritual refreshment in Mandarin. The ads tell stories about Coke product, the athletes sponsored by the company, Chinese fans of Olympic sports and the values behind the Olympic Games.

The campaign, which will run for two weeks, was created by Red Lounge, an independent unit set up by Coke in China with its roster of agencies such as Leo Burnett Worldwide, Starcom MediaVest Group, the Aegis-owned interactive agency WWWins and Heartland, an outdoor media company.

The campaign are designed to engage consumers with “personal expressions of the Olympic values that of course merge perfectly with the values of Coca-Cola and the focus and joy of our own athletes' personal values and personalities,” said Bere Mitchell, Red Lounge’s chief creative officer in Shanghai. Coke has been an Olympic partner since 1928, and is the exclusive nonalcoholic beverage provider to the Olympic Games through 2020.

The campaign is also running online at, where consumers can use campaign visuals to create their own T-shirts, screensavers, postcards and other graphics.

Mattel recalls one million Fisher Price toys
NEW YORK--Mattel announced Aug. 1 that the company was recalling one million Fisher Price toys, many featuring Nickelodeon and Sesame Street characters, after it found they contained excessive levels of lead paint. About two-thirds of the toys, made by a contract manufacturer in China, reached shelves, company officials said. No injuries were reported.

The massive recall will cost the marketer some $30 million, but it stands to lose a lot more than that. At stake is consumer trust for the Fisher Price brand, long held up as a standard bearer in quality and safety by the most cautious -- and squeamish -- buyers: parents of infants and toddlers.

“It's a million products, so in the grand scheme of things, it's not that significant,” said Andy Bateman, CEO of Interbrand, New York. "But it's such a big issue in the public consciousness because it's about our children."

Branding experts so far have said the El Segundo, Calif., company is doing a good job of handling the recall and continued transparency is the only way to win back consumer trust.

“The early signs look very good. ... [Mattel] has been very transparent,” Mr. Bateman said.

When a product is recalled, it's crucial for marketers to give out as much information as possible, said Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York office of branding consultancy Landor Associates.

"You need to be upfront, direct and very proactive. The louder they send out this message, the better it is for their brand," Mr. Adamson said.

Steven Addis, CEO of branding firm Addis Creson, Berkeley, Calif., said Mattel should specifically say which products are safe and which are hazardous. "If they pull back, parents are going to assume the worst," he said.

Mr. Bateman also said the toymaker would be smart to get involved in online forums about the toys.

To get the word out about the toxic toys, the marketer relied mostly on news outlets, opting against paid ads, a Fisher-Price spokeswoman said. The marketer put an easy-to use chart on its website with the name, number and image of products recalled, and tracked all communication in the media related to the recall, including blogs, consumer affairs call notes and radio, newspaper and broadcast clips.

The recall, which comes months after poisonous pet food made in China was yanked off U.S. shelves, has raised safety questions about foreign-made products. "There is so much worry now that 'Made in China' is going to conjure up skull and crossbones in peoples' minds," Mr. Addis said.

But with a proactive response from Mattel, "the potential upside is [consumers saying] 'Good for you guys. You spotted the problem; it was contained,'" Mr. Bateman said.
--by Ad Age reporter Meghan McIlroy in New York

2008 Olympics Get Exclusive Online Store
BEIJING--The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games has opened an online retail site (, the only legal web site for Olympic-related products. The site sells more than 1,000 items such as clothing, key chains, and souvenirs.

Lenovo signs two Australian swimmers
BEIJING--Lenovo Group has signed two Australian swimmers, Libby Lenton and Eamon Sullivan, as Olympic ambassadors for the global PC company, the only Chinese global sponsor of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Lenovo now sponsors seven athletes, who will participate in promotional activities in the lead-up to the next summer games, such as ad campaigns and Olympic hospitality and media appearances, on its behalf.

The others include Gale Emms, 2004 Olympic silver medallist in badminton from the U.K; Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, 2004 beach volleyball gold medallists; Canadian canoeist and kayaker Adam van Koeveden, 2004 Olympic gold and bronze medallist; and Chinese track-and-field star and 2004 Olympic gold medallist, Liu Xiang.

Publicis acquires Chinese digital agency CCG
SHANGHAI--Publicis Groupe has acquired privately owned Communication Central Group (CCG) for an undisclosed sum. The Shanghai-based company will be folded into Digitas, Publicis’ global digital network. It will be managed by CCG’s founder and former CEO, Neil Runcieman, who is now president and managing director of Digitas in Greater China.

CCG grew into one of China’s largest independent interactive agencies with 200 employees in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shenzhen. It will continue to work with CCG clients such as Philips Electronics, Unilever, Bank of China, Intel Corp., HSBC Group and China Eastern Airlines.
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