McDonald's adds bulk to beef's image to encourage burger sales

And other news in Greater China

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SHANGHAI--McDonald's Corp. has launched a “Goodness of Beef” campaign in China to educate consumers about the benefits of beef and persuade them to eat more of it. Ads demonstrate the strong muscles and energy that beef can build with three cartoonish pictures of a body-building bull, a cow performing aerobics and a skate-boarding calf. The ads will run nationwide in print media and in point-of-sales materials through the end of November.

The campaign, created by TBWA Worldwide, Shanghai, McDonald's latest attempt to battle arch rival Yum Brand’s KFC chain in China. Although McDonald’s now has more than 760 restaurants in China and aims to reach at least 1,000 outlets by the start of the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, KFC has more than 1,200 fast-food outlets in the mainland. One reason KFC has nearly twice as many stores is that Chinese tend to eat much more chicken than beef, which has not traditionally featured prominently in Chinese cuisine.

In a collaboration between McDonald's and the China Health Education Association, the campaign was designed “to help the Chinese consumer better understand the unique food values and benefits of beef. At the same time, it is also a continual effort to help our consumers better understand the McDonald's brand,” said Shanghai-based Phyllis Cheung, senior national marketing director at McDonald's in China.

Fallon to move into Publicis offices in Hong Kong and Singapore
HONG KONG-- Fallon Worldwide is folding its offices in Hong Kong and Singapore into the premises of its Publicis Groupe sister network, Publicis Worldwide. As part of the move, Singapore-based Calvin Soh, Fallon's president-exec creative director, Asia, will take on an additional role as regional creative director, Asia at Publicis, a new position at that agency.

Fallon has several regional Singapore-based accounts with marketers like Citibank, also a Publicis Worldwide client, as well as Nike, CNBC and Organon, a Dutch pharmaceutical company. But one of its largest clients, United Airlines, has nearly eliminated its advertising in Asia over the past year following a global rise in oil prices, a situation that "hasn't helped" the agency's efforts to create a regional network with offices in Asia's two main hubs.

Fallon's Singapore office currently has a staff of 20, but its operation in Hong Kong, which was heavily dependent on United, now has just five full-time employees. Fallon also has an office in Japan, managed by Phil Rubel, which reports directly to the network's global headquarters in Minneapolis, MN and is not part of the changes elsewhere in Asia.

Under the new arrangement, Fallon will be based inside Publicis offices in Hong Kong and Singapore to reduce its overhead expenses, "but will continue to operate as a separate agency brand with its own clients and with strict firewalls, because Publicis has some competing brands," said Mr. Soh. "But Publicis needs a better creative product, so we'll work off each other, helping them with creative on some of their non-competing clients. It helps that I'll be wearing a double hat," with a creative role at Publicis as well as Fallon.

Banned substances detected in P&G's SK-II brand
GUANGZHOU--China's Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau has detected banned substances, including chromium and neodymium, in nine products in Procter & Gamble's premium skin care range SK-II, which is imported from Japan. The U.S. consumer goods marketer denies SK-II contains any harmful chemicals. It has not withdrawn the products from store shelves, but has offered to provide a refund to customers who return the products with a sales receipt to Chinese retail outlets where SK-II is sold.

In a company statement issued by its Greater China headquarters in Guangzhou, P&G stated, "Safety and quality is the most important thing...All SK-II products go through strict safety tests during invention and the production process [and P&G does] not add the concerned elements in any of the SK-II products...On the batch of products that were tested in Guangzhou, we are actively collaborating with the related government parties’ authority to understand the sources of the products and the testing data."

Star acquires 100 Hong Kong films
HONG KONG--Through its subsidiary Fortune Star, News Corp.’s Hong Kong-based Star Group has entered an agreement to acquire 100 films from China Star Entertainment Group for $18 million. The deal will give Star perpetual and worldwide rights to titles from One Hundred Years of Film, China Star Pictures, S&W and other wholly-owned subsidiaries of China Star Entertainment Group. The movie titles, the majority of which were produced in the past five years, feature Asian stars such as Andy Lau, Stephen Chow, Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Cecilia Cheung and Tony Leung Ka-fai.

Wal-Mart launches first retail-branded credit card in China
BEIJING--Wal-Mart Stores has become the first major retailer to launch a credit card in China through a partnership with China's Bank of Communications (BoCom), whose credit card business is jointly managed by HSBC Group. HSBC took a 19.9% stake in BoCom in January 2005.

Although credit cards are still a rarity in China, their use is growing among middle class consumers. The dual-currency credit cards are valid everywhere credit cards are accepted, and also allow consumers to take advantage of special offers when used at Wal-Mart outlets.

The launch is part of plans by Wal-Mart to have a bigger presence in China. Although the world’s largest retailer has over 6,600 stores and global sales of $312 billion for the fiscal year ended January 31, 2006, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer ranks second in China behind global rival Carrefour.

The French company’s global sales were $94.2 billion last year, but Carrefour is far larger than Wal-Mart in China, with 79 stores in 32 Chinese cities by the first half of this year. Wal-Mart, meanwhile, had just 60 stores in 30 cities. In terms of sales, Carrefour racked up $2.2 billion last year in China, while Wal-Mart generated just over $1 billion, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Nickelodeon debuts in Taiwan on Eastern TV
TAIPEI--Viacom's Nickelodeon Networks Asia has teamed up with Eastern Broadcasting Co.’s Eastern Television (ETTV) to launch "YoYo Nick," a three-hour Nickelodeon-branded programming block for kids in Taiwan. YoYo Nick will air Mandarin-language versions of Nickelodeon’s "Dora the Explorer, " "ChalkZone" and "SpongeBob SquarePants" in primetime, making the programs available to more than 4.6 million household across Taiwan via ETTV’s dedicated children’s channel, YoYo TV.

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