Hong Kong asks Grey to revamp the city's image after split with Draftfcb

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HONG KONG--Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), conflicted about Hong Kong's image and facing growing competition from rival Asian destinations, hired Grey Group as its global advertising network. The tourism group will spend an estimated $40 million a year for the next three years in North America, Europe and Asia, with media planning and buying by another WPP Group agency, MindShare. The first ad campaign is expected to launch before summer.

"Hong Kong is a very diversified city. We want to bring out this diversity to overseas visitors [and in particular, make Hong Kong] stand out in the short-haul market. Several neighboring countries such as Singapore and South Korea are getting more aggressive. We need to distinguish Hong Kong from other destinations," said Danny Mok, general manager of Grey, Hong Kong. "One reason they changed agencies [from Draftfcb] is they want new ideas and a fresh perspective to change Hong Kong’s image, and not just from the agency. Even their executive management team is new.”

Last year, HKTB appointed Anthony Lau Chun Hon as executive director and Daisy Lam as deputy executive director. They took over from the previous team, led by Chairman Selina Chow, Executive Director Clara Chong, Deputy Executive Director Grace Lee, the tourism marketing general manager, Aliana Ho, and general manager of industry training and human resources, Brenda Chan, who all resigned in the last year.

The government-run organization's desire for a new approach, both in management and  communication, reflects a long-standing disagreement between leading politicians and Hong Kong's business elite. Since Hong Kong was handed over from British to Chinese rule in 1997, the city has struggled to define its image, both at home and abroad. The territory is caught between the desire of many Hong Kong citizens to embrace their Chinese heritage and others who want to maintain its cosmopolitan image, including a transparent legal system and rights like freedom of speech. Growing pollution also hurts Hong Kong's image overseas.

Grey’s appointment follows a pitch against finalists Saatchi & Saatchi, DDB Worldwide, and Publicis Worldwide. Ogilvy & Mather and Euro RSCG, which already handles tourism-related advertising for Hong Kong’s role as host of the equestrian events during the 2008 Olympic Games, also took part in the initial briefing session.

For the past seven years, Hong Kong’s advertising has been handled by Draftfcb, the Interpublic Group of Cos. agency which resigned the business last year. Although worth up to $50 million a year in billings, the account has involved political maneuvering. And much of the spend went to non-advertising marketing services, making it a less profitable and unpopular account for creative agencies. Several prominent international networks in Hong Kong declined to take part in the pitch.

Financial Times to launch Chinese lifestyle magazine
HONG KONG--Pearson’s Financial Times Group “plans to launch a Chinese-language magazine under the FT brand aimed at China’s growing business elite,” confirmed Azmar Sukandar, the FT’s regional communications manager, Asia/Pacific, in Hong Kong.

The magazine, the first published by the FT in Chinese and distributed in China, will be a quality lifestyle and wealth-management title. Other details, including the name and the launch date, have not been finalized.

China has been a difficult market for international publishers, because of the tight restrictions on media in the mainland. Reluctant to tarnish their global editorial reputation with a heavily censored Chinese publication, foreign publishers of titles like Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, Vogue and Elle have largely restricted their Chinese publications to general lifestyle topics.

Business elites in Asia increase use of traditional and new media
HONG KONG--Readership of international publications continues to grow among Asia’s business elite, according to a recent study by Ipsos MediaCT, despite the growth of on-line and mobile media. More than 70% of this demographic read one or more of the region’s international publications, up from 66% in 2004 and 68% in 2006.

The Ipsos study, called BE: ASIA 2008 (formerly ABRS), indicates that Asia’s business elite are voracious consumers of all forms of media. Nine out of 10 claimed to have used digital media in the past four weeks, 80% have visited an international media owner’s web site, half watched an international TV channel yesterday, 60% received a daily email alert/news letter in the last month, four out of 10 downloaded a podcast in the last month and read a blog in the last month, and one in ten contributed to a blog.

Media consumption and other behavior was measured via a self-completion questionnaire administered by mail to over 5,000 business executives in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand between September 2007 and January 2008.

Two thirds spend more time reading business information online than in the past, 84% claim to find the internet useful for business news updates. Over 7 out of 10 claim a publication’s web site is an important part of its overall offering, although online information is still seen as a supplement to, rather than replacement for printed media. But less than half (44%) use a business publication’s web site as part of their daily routine.

“What we are seeing is not the simple substitution of one medium for another but, with usage of all media up across the board, a desire for richer sources of knowledge and business information” drawn from TV, print and online, said Jenny Armshaw-Heak, business development director, Asia for Ipsos Media in Hong Kong. The results this year paint “a very healthy picture” of the Asian business elite.

Print titles showing significant growth in the survey since 2006 include the Financial Times (up from 8% to 11% of all business elite respondents); Time (up from 19% to 22%); Forbes (up from 13% to 17%); and Fortune (up from 15% to 18%).

Among international TV channels, CNN International had a daily reach of 28%, followed by the Discovery Channel (23%), the National Geographic Channel (22%), BBC World (15%), Channel News Asia (13%), CNBC Asia (11%), Bloomberg TV (10%) and Fox News (4%).

International web sites with the top daily reach are News.Yahoo.com (17%); News.Google.com (12%); News.BBC.co.uk (4%); Channelnewsasia.com, CNNMoney.com (which incorporates Fortune.com), Bloomberg.com, Nationalgeographic.com, BusinessWeek.com, Time.com (all with 3%); Newsweek.com, Economist.com, WSJ.com, CNBC.com and Forbes.com (all with 2%).

Disney acquires Chinese game developer Gamestar
SHANGHAI--Disney Interactive Studios, the interactive entertainment affiliate of The Walt Disney Co., will acquire Gamestar, one of the leading independent video game software developers in China, the world’s largest internet market with a thriving online game culture. China's online game market will exceed $3 billion by 2010, according to Pearl Research. Sales grew more than 60% to $1.66 billion in 2007.

At studios in Shanghai and Wuhan, Gamestar produces art and technology solutions for interactive entertainment software development. It will become the sixth studio in Disney’s international portfolio of creative centers of excellence. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Gamestar will play an important role in Disney’s global growth plans, “providing a high quality talent pool for our expanding product portfolio,” said Graham Hopper in Burbank, Calif, exec VP and general manager of Disney Interactive Studios, which publishes and distributes multi-platform video games and interactive entertainment worldwide. It also licenses properties and works directly with other interactive game publishers. "Our global expansion is aimed at achieving a new level of creative capacity, quality, and expertise in video game software development.”

Beijing Daily Group will publish Olympic daily
BEIJING--After a stiff bidding period, China’s General Administration of Press and Publication has selected Beijing Daily Group as the publisher of the official Chinese-language Olympic daily newspaper.

The group, which is viewed as the official mouthpiece of the Beijing’s city government will publish a 20-page paper that will be distributed from late July until early September in all Olympic stadiums and Olympic partnership hotels in the Chinese capital.

The advertising-supported paper will be written and edited by staff from its subsidiary publications. Beijing Daily Group publishes nine newspapers, including the flagship Beijing Evening News, with a daily circulation above one million, three magazines, and a Chinese-language Beijing Daily web site.

China Daily, a national state-run paper that serves as the English-language voice of China’s Communist Party, was selected to publish the official English-language Olympic daily newspaper earlier this year.
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