Nick creates Chinese-themed programming for U.S.

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NEW YORK--With the success of children's shows "Dora the Explorer" and "Go, Diego, Go," Nick Jr. has decided to introduce preschoolers to "Ni Hao, Kai-lan" early next year.

The animated show will follow Kai-lan Chow, a 5-year-old girl who speaks both English and Mandarin and goes on little adventures with her animal friends, including Rintoo, a rambunctious tiger, and Hoho, a three-year-old monkey. The series also explores the strong relationship between Kai-lan and her grandfather, Yeye.

"We're really excited about it," said Pam Kaufman, chief marketing officer, Nickelodeon, MTVN Kids & Family Group. "This is the first to show a Chinese-American intergenerational family."

The launch, originally set for this year, has been delayed several times and is now scheduled for February 2008, during Chinese New Year. The network is talking to at least one Asian-American ad agency about pushing "Ni Hao, Kai-lan" to advertisers.

In the show, Kai-lan and her friends learn about traditions such as Chinese New Year and the traditional Dragon Boat Festival. Geared toward children ages 2 to 5, the show also will introduce kids to at least one Mandarin word per episode. In the series pilot, viewers are asked to help Hoho hop high enough to reach a dragon boat on top of a pagoda by yelling the word "tiao," which means "jump."

"The success of Dora went beyond just the cartoon," said an executive at an Asian-American agency. "There are videos, clothes, dolls and other toys, etc. Hopefully this new show will find the same success, and not just with Asian-Americans but with the general market, too. "

"We know kids want to see themselves on TV," Ms. Kaufman said, and about 60% of the 15.4 million Asian-Americans are of Chinese descent.
--By Advertising Age reporter Emily Tan in New York

Alibaba announces plans for initial public offering
HANGZHOU--One of China's most successful dot-coms, Alibaba Group, owner of the business-to-business e-commerce site as well as, a consumer e-commerce site, has ended months of speculation by announcing it will conduct a public listing later this year in Hong Kong. Alibaba also operates Yahoo's operation in China.

Alibaba, founded by chairman and non-executive director Jack Ma on a shoestring budget in his apartment in Hangzhou, China in 1998, hopes to raise $1.3 billion when it sells a 17% stake, making it the largest initial public offering of a Chinese Internet company to date. China is the world's second-largest internet market with more than 162 million internet users. Mr. Ma is already one of the richest men in China. His company controls about two-thirds of China's e-commerce market as well as control of the country's largest online payment platform, Alipay.

Coke opens Chinese medicine research center in Beijing
BEIJING--Coca-Cola Co. is tapping into 5,000 years of Chinese history by opening a research center for Chinese medicine at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing.

Leveraging the research expertise of the U.S. beverage company and the academy’s team of researchers and scientific technologies, it will focus on beverages using Chinese herbal ingredients and formulas.

The center is the latest signal that Coca-Cola is moving towards non-carbonated beverages, particularly in Asia, where juice, tea, coffee and water products have become major sellers for the company. Last month, for example, Coca-Cola launched a new product line of natural herb tea drinks in Hong Kong that could expand into the rest of China.

“We see this center as an important step in strengthening our innovation pipeline for beverages that contribute to well-being. This collaboration will ultimately help us bring the insights and benefits of traditional Chinese medicine to consumers all over the world,” said Rhona Applebaum, Coke’s VP-chief scientific and regulatory officer.

“We can add global reach and world-class marketing skills to help promote Chinese wisdom in preventive holistic health through new and innovative beverages.”

24/7 expands relationship with Chinese search giant Baidu
BEIJING--WPP Group’s digital marketing company 24/7 Real Media will expand its search marketing platform capability on one of China’s largest search engines, The deal will allow companies working with 24/7 Real Media to better manage online marketing campaigns in China, the world’s second largest internet market with over 162 million surfers.

24/7 Real Media has been managing paid search campaigns in China for over two years. According to research firm Analysys International, the size of the China search engine market reached $153 million in the first half of 2007, increasing 69% quarter-on-quarter and 29% year-on-year. The China online advertising market is projected to reach $1.5 billion by the end of 2010.

Lenovo narrows torch relay contest
BEIJING--PC-maker and global Olympic sponsor Lenovo Group has selected 18 finalists from companies such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and the U.S. to compete for the chance to participate in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay.

Lenovo launched the torchbearer search program with the help of Google to find new thinkers from around the world to run with the torch in China. The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games has organized the longest-ever torch relay in Olympic history with more cities visited than any past games.

Each finalist has submitted a 30-second video clip demonstrating the most imaginative and innovative way they would participate in the Olympic Torch Relay, demonstrating what makes them a new thinker. Surfers will determine the final selection of torchbearers by visiting the Lenovo web site

Voting will conclude on Oct. 24. The top three vote-getters will be announced in mid-November and nominated by Lenovo to participate as torchbearers in the China portion of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay. The finalists are from eight countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and the United States. Their professions range include a teacher, a filmmaker and a former Olympian.
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