Li Ning teamed up with star runner to launch footwear line

And other news in Greater China

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BEIJING--Chinese sportswear company Li Ning hopes to raise the profile of its footwear with a new line of lightweight running shoes called ZhuFeng (Chasing the wind) and a campaign that features Ethiopian marathon runner Ambesse Tolossa.

In most sectors of China’s consumer market, local manufacturers have significant advantages over foreign marketers, such as greater understanding of the market’s nuances, lower prices and better distribution.

One major exception is sportswear brands, which need to be trendy to appeal to young adults in China’s first and second tier cities. Foreign brands such as Adidas and Nike, and even lesser known brands like Puma, carry greater cachet among young Chinese. Li Ning also faces strong competition in the footwear category from another local brand, Anta.

To raise its profile at home, Li Ning has forged marketing relationships with major athletes to give its brand more international flair. Last year, the Beijing-based company signed two National Basketball Association players, Damon Jones and Shaquille O’Neal, a trend it has continued with the new ads featuring Mr. Tolossa.

The campaign, created by Leo Burnett Worldwide, Beijing, portrays running as an enjoyable activity that should have no restrictions. Li Ning hopes the theme will resonate with young consumers who are new to the notion of recreational sports, and who are enjoying a greater degree of personal freedom than any generation in China’s history.

In a 60” TV spot shot in Beijing, Shanghai and Lijiang, one of the most beautiful villages in China, the athlete completes a leisurely run through China, from the breathtaking plains of the countryside to the buzzing city centers, a long journey made comfortable by ZhuFeng shoes. The campaign also is running in radio, outdoor, print, in-store and online media.


Focus launches computerized outdoor network
SHANGHAI--Focus Media Holding has launched Frame 2.0, a new form of digital frame media in China. It is based on LCD screen technology to deliver ads with high quality visual impact.

Focus operates the largest out-of-home advertising network in China using audiovisual flat-panel displays but has eagerly expanded into other new media formats. Its platforms allow advertisers to air TV spots and print ads in areas that can reach specific demographic groups during their daily activities, such as office buildings, retail chain stores, residential buildings, shopping malls, airports and mass transit systems.

The Frame 2.0 network, which has 10,000 sites in the first phase, will mostly be located inside the elevators of high-end commercial and residential buildings. The computerized frames can store over 1,000 pictures and items of customer information, and can be changed easily based on marketers' requests.

“Instead of one static poster picture, advertisers can use several digital pictures and combine them with various themes, such as story-telling, which helps attract viewers' attention and results in higher consumer advertisement recall,” said chairman-CEO Jason Jiang in Shanghai.

Focus Media this week announced a 14.9% drop in revenue to $58.1 million in the first quarter of 2007 compared to the previous quarter.first quarter earnings on May 17. Year-on-year revenue rose 75.4%.

“Our businesses were impacted by the Chinese New Year holiday in the first quarter of 2007,” said Mr. Jiang. “However, all of our businesses have posted solid growth year-over-year. We have also seen a solid sales rebound in sales into the second quarter.” During the first quarter, Focus bought Allyes, China’s largest internet advertising agency.


Sina and China Telecom team up for video-sharing portal
SHANGHAI--One of China’s largest online media companies has teamed up with a leading local telecommunication provider to create an interactive community platform.

Sina Corp. and China Telecom Corp. will launch a co-branded video sharing platform under the brand name, Sina-Vnet Podcast, to let internet users share video and other media without being constrained by bandwidth and related costs. It will be hosted on the online media giant’s web portal, SINA.com, but internet users will also be able to access it via China Telecom’s portal, Vnet.cn.

“Although video-sharing is still at an infancy stage in China, we believe this will prove to be a fast growing trend in China in the near future,” said Charles Chao, Sina’s president-CEO in Shanghai.

It is also an effort by both corporations to hold on to their leadership in China. Sina faces stiff competition from other major community sites in the mainland like Sohu and Tencent’s QQ platform.

And China Telecom’s status has deteriorated with the rise of mobile telecommunications in China, prompting the company to “explore new business models that will add value to our partners as well as our customers,” said Keke Yang, general manager of China Telecom’s value-added business division in Beijing.


Global Sources launches Elegant Living magazine in China
HONG KONG--Global Sources will launch Elegant Living, a print magazine and web site aimed at China's growing number of affluent consumers, in September. The company, one of China’s leading business-to-business media companies and a major facilitator of two-way trade with Greater China, predicts it will have a readership above one million.

Global Sources already publishes Chief Executive China, a title launched 15 years ago. Elegant Living was developed to help executives achieve similar success in their personal lives.

"Today, China has more millionaires than any country in the world. And, perhaps more than anywhere in the world, brands are important,” said Craig Pepples, the company's chief operating officer and publisher of Elegant Living in Hong Kong.

Published monthly in Chinese, Elegant Living will cover subjects including cars, city living, fashion and travel, and feature interviews with China's top celebrities and executives. The inaugural issue will have a controlled circulation of 140,000 mainland Chinese executives.


Finet acquires Hangzhou Tianchang online games business in China

HONG KONG--Finet Group, a Hong Kong-based venture capital firm, has acquired Hangzhou Tianchang Network Technology Co., a major game developer, for $26 million in cash. Established in early 2005, Tianchang has created popular games such as “The Legend of Tang Dynasty” and “Tang Dynasty Online.”

Already home to a massive multiple online role playing game sector, “China's online game market continues to grow at a robust pace,” said Finet Chairman George Yu in Hong Kong.

According to a joint report by the China Game Publishers Association and market research firm IDC, China's online game business was valued at $817.5 million in 2006. With annual growth estimated at 40% for the next few years, the market size could quadruple by 2011, as internet access becomes more widespread. In 2006, there were about 31 million fee-paying gamers in China out of a total of 51 million gamers, aged mostly between 18 and 30.
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