Zenith China veteran launches media auditing firm

And other news in Greater China

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SHANGHAI--Alex Abplanalp, who recently resigned as Zenith Media CEO in China, has founded the first media auditing and media management consultancy in Shanghai. The China Media Consulting Group (CMCG) will help advertisers navigate the mainland’s fragmented and increasingly expensive media market. China has one of the largest and most dynamic media markets in the world, estimated at $10.1 billion in 2005, according to country’s State Administration of Industry and Commerce.

Headquartered in Shanghai, the independent company will work with advertisers across China to objectively evaluate all aspects of their media management process and delivery, to help ensure best returns on their investment in China. CMCG is not associated with any agency groups or media vendors and will work exclusively with advertisers, but it will not plan or buy media.

“It is also one of the most complex for advertisers to manage and to quantify the real value delivery of their media investment. Advertisers in China are increasingly looking for more independent, sophisticated benchmarks for objective quantification and analysis of the value delivery of their media investment,” said Mr. Abplanalp.

A native of Switzerland, he opened Zenith’s Shanghai office in 1996. He joined Carat three years later to start its operation in the mainland. He returned to Zenith at the end of 2001, working with advertisers like Shanghai General Motors, Sony Corp., Nokia Corp., China Mobile, Procter & Gamble Co. and Coca-Cola Co. He has appointed Christine Qian as managing director of the new company. Previously, she was Zenith’s deputy general manager in Shanghai.

He would not name the consultancy’s first clients, but said he “expects primary interest to be from multinationals, where there is greater pressure from management and shareholders to account for measurable returns on media investment. Undoubtedly there will be some interest from local advertisers who are also looking to more effectively quantify and measure value through the whole media process,” said Mr. Abplanalp.

Orbis appoints M&C Saatchi in Hong Kong
HONG KONG--The Tokyo-based skin care and cosmetics brand Orbis has appointed M&C Saatchi, Hong Kong, to help the company establish its oil-free products in the Chinese territory, where Japanese products are extremely popular among trend-conscious consumers. The win follows a three-way pitch against incumbent WE Communications and another independent agency, Spark.

“The challenge is in how we can help the client cut through the huge cosmetic market clutter [and] at the same time leverage the unique ‘Oil Cut’ concept of the brand,” said Sylvia Lee, managing director, M&C Saatchi, Hong Kong.

Orbis has already opened stores in major retail districts like Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok and Hung Hom aimed at both teenagers and office workers.

NBA expands TV reach in China
BEIJING--The National Basketball Association has added 24 broadcasters--19 of them in Greater China--for the 2006-07 season in the largest season-to-season growth in league history.

Overall, the NBA reaches basketball fans in 215 countries in 41 languages via 188 telecasters, but China is one of the association’s most critical markets. The sport has been popular in the mainland for almost a century and interest intensified after Shanghai native Yao Ming, a center for the Houston Rockets, became an international celebrity.

This season, the NBA’s coverage and reach in China has grown substantially as the number of telecasters increased from 32 to 51. The newcomers include SiTV, SiTV(HD), Heilongjiang TV, Gansu TV, Guizhou TV, Hainan TV, Inner Mongolia TV, Jilin TV, Jinshan TV, Ningxia TV, Tibet TV, Xishuang Banna TV, Xuzhou TV and Yinchuan TV.

The NBA also extended partnerships with CCTV, China’s national television network, as well as Beijing TV, Guangdong TV and Shanghai TV, the main terrestrial broadcasters in China’s wealthiest cities. This season, CCTV 5 will air four live NBA games each week, while Beijing TV and Guangdong TV will each broadcast two live games per week. Shanghai TV Greatsports channel will broadcast two games per week while New Vision’s high-definition channel, Shanghai Interactive TV, will broadcast one live game per week.

The league’s games can also been seen on NBA.com/china and last summer, it debuted “NBA Zhi Zao” (Made in the NBA), a weekly basketball and lifestyle show produced in China.
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