Get a jump on Year of the Ox with CowParade

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TOKYO--CowParade, the world's largest public art exhibit in which life-size, three-dimensional fiberglass cow canvases serve as the inspiration for artists, is heading to Asia.

CowParade is partnering with Amana Images, a Tokyo-based image licensing agency. Amana will be allowed to license images from the entire collection of more than 5,000 cows, which have appeared in 60 exhibits to date, to advertisers in Japan for use in marketing and promotions.

CowParade hopes the exhibit will run across Asia during the Year of the Ox, starting in early 2009, or, as the West Hartford, Conn.-based company prefers to call it, the Year of the Cow. The Chinese zodiac calendar is celebrated in most of Asia, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. It greatly influences traditions and cultural activities across the region. CowParade has already arranged to stage exhibits over the coming year in Tokyo, Taipei and Seoul through Amana.

"CowParade looks to roll out in China during the last quarter of 2009. They hope to start with the city of Shanghai. For this they will seek a different partner," said Gina Sisco, a spokeswoman for the organizers in New York.

During a CowParade event, the cows are displayed throughout the host city, on sidewalks and plazas, for three months. CowParade events feature 100 or more cows, with New York City in 2000 fielding 500 bovines. After the public display, the cows are rounded up, refurbished and sold to the public via live and internet auctions to benefit charities. More than $25 million has been raised to date.

Haier taps Hill & Knowlton for PR
BEIJING--Haier Group, one of China's few global marketers, has retained a public relations agency for the first time to help build its brand image in China and overseas, particularly before and during the 2008 Olympic Games.

The white goods and electronics manufacturer, and Olympic sponsor, appointed WPP Group's Hill & Knowlton to help Haier implement a communications plan for the upcoming games in Beijing, by providing outreach to the international media and assistance in communicating the brand's vision.

Hill & Knowlton already works with another Olympic sponsor, Tsingtao Brewery. Both Haier and Tsingtao are based in Qingdao, a seaside city south of Beijing that will host the Olympic sailing events in August.

Haier is the No. 1 home appliance manufacturer in China and fourth-largest in the world in terms of revenue. Its products are distributed in more than 160 countries, making one of the largest Chinese companies outside the mainland. But it has been slow to build its brand beyond its home market.

"Haier is strong in advertising, but it has had virtually no public relations [experience]. We're building from scratch, said Frances Sun, who leads the Olympic communications practice at Hill & Knowlton, Beijing. "We'll help them set up a PR department, find a spokesperson and provide media training for their executives. The Olympic Games will only be the start."

Haier works with a variety of creative and media agencies, including DraftfFCB, Dentsu, and Initiative Media. It nearly hired Burson-Marsteller earlier this year, but that agreement was not finalized. (See also, "Larry Rinaldi resigns as Haier's top global marketing executive," AdAgeChina, April 24, 2008)

Chinese footwear marketer Hongguo appoints Leo Burnett
GUANGZHOU--The Chinese footwear company Hongguo International has appointed Leo Burnett to create advertising for two of its premium brands, C. Banner and Eblan. The campaigns will run in TV, print and outdoor media as well as in retail stores. Hongguo International has over 900 points of sale in China. In 2006, C. Banner was China's third biggest seller of womens' footwear in China.

This is the first time Hongguo has hired an international ad agency for a brand-building campaign, said Jeff Lo, general manager of Leo Burnett, Guangzhou. "Competition between international brands and local brands has become increasingly intense for the fashion and beauty industry in China, resulting in both opportunities and challenges."

Hong Kong is top destination for mainland Chinese
SHANGHAI--Hong Kong is the most popular destination for consumers from all regions of mainland China for a trip abroad, according to Nielsen Co.'s China Outbound Travel Monitor. The second most popular destination for those from northern and eastern China is France, while Macau and Australia are the second most popular places among travelers from southern and western China, respectively.

The survey was conducted in January and February 2008 in 26 cities in China through a combination of telephone and online interviews with 4,103 travelers.

Not surprisingly, the main reasons Chinese cited for traveling abroad were sightseeing (81%) and shopping (60%).

"Chinese have unique needs and wants when it comes to travel, on account of their diverse cultural differences. Identifying these needs and matching them with the right marketing strategies is key to winning a share of their wallets," said Grace Pan, Nielsen's head of travel and leisure research for China in Shanghai.

According to Nielsen's destination satisfaction index, the 10 most satisfying destinations scored between 70 and 81, with Japan taking first place at 81, followed by Australia at 79. Neither Japan nor Australia was the most popular destination visited by Chinese travelers however. Hong Kong and Macau were at the top of the list in terms of the number of trips Chinese travelers took, but index scores for both destinations were behind Japan, Australia, U.K., Singapore, U.S. and France.

Apple to open first China store in Beijing in August
BEIJING--Apple will open its first retail store in China in Beijing's upscale Sanlitun neighborhood, where many foreign embassies and luxury apartments are located. The three-floor flagship store will open in August, while the spotlight is firmly on the Chinese capital, host to the 2008 Olympic Games starting Aug. 8.

The opening also coincides with the launch of the popular iPhone in Asia. Hutchison Telecommunications will offer a 3G version of the iPhone in Hong Kong and Macau this year. Apple has also made deals with mobile service providers in Singapore, the Philippines and Australia to introduce the iPhone those markets during 2008.
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