SHANGHAI (AdAgeChina.com) -- British auto enthusiasts could be in for a surprise. The MG model may be sold again in the U.K., but instead of a vintage British brand the car will be an import from China.
Nanjing Automobile Corp. won a tooth-and-nail battle to own the collapsed British automaker MG Rover Group in 2005, following a bidding war with another Chinese company, Shanghai Auto Industry Corp. (SAIC). Nanjing paid an estimated $100 million to buy Rover, including the coveted MG brand. SAIC finally got its hands on MG in 2007, when it purchased Nanjing for about $1.9 billion.
SAIC, China's largest domestic car company, is now planning to relaunch MG at home and export the model overseas, including to the U.K.
This week, SAIC appointed a local agency, WE Marketing Group, to handle brand building and brand management for the relaunch of MG later this year, following a pitch against the incumbent, Ogilvy & Mather, Shanghai. Ogilvy won the account in 2005.
SAIC Motor has a "solid expansion plan in China and overseas markets. For markets outside China, the campaign will start in Birmingham, England, where MG's Europe headquarters are still based, despite the foreign takeover," according to Viveca Chan, chairman-CEO of WE, the Chinese affiliate of independent agency network Worldwide Partners.
"The brand heritage will remain essential to its identity," she added, "and authenticity will be key to the campaign, which will radiate globally from the U.K."
The relaunch will start at dealerships, with ads rolling out in the fourth quarter of 2009, and continuing into 2010 with the debut of the MG6, a model that has already been previewed at some car shows.
SAIC already works with WE on another model related to MG. SAIC purchased some MG production equipment in 2004, and has built high-end sedans in China under the Roewe name (which intentionally sounds a lot like "Rover") since November 2006, when Roewe was introduced at the Beijing Auto Show.
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