In a blow to GroupM's Mindshare division, Unilever has moved its planning and buying business in China to Omnicom Media Group's (OMG) PHD division. Unilever is one of China's largest advertisers, and was Mindshare's biggest client in the mainland.
The size of the account has been reported as high as $440 million, but a senior executive at the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group said, "The number quoted is a substantial over-statement."
Insiders at the company put the billings closer to $330 million. Interpublic's Mediabrands and Aegis-owned Carat also took part in the pitch that began in July 2009.
China is one of Unilever's key markets, accounting for sales of about $1 billion. Alan Jope, Unilever's chairman for Greater China, said last month that he expects Unilever's business in the mainland to grow by at least 15% annually.
When the investment deal closes, the two mainland-born businessmen and their investors will become the team's second-largest shareholders after owner Dan Gilbert.
Tsingtao is the only Chinese beer brand with an overseas presence, but the Cleveland Cavaliers deal is also about the popularity of the NBA in the brewery's home market. Chinese interest in the Cavaliers and the team's star player, LeBron James, has grown to such an extent that 34 of the Cavs' games this season are scheduled to be broadcast in China.
"To invest in an association with a franchise of that caliber is logical in terms of building our brand globally," said Yan Xu, Tsingtao's president of global sales and marketing.
Called "The Journey," the web-based magazine, located at www.privatebank.standardchartered.com/thejourney, was developed by TBWA Worldwide and its direct marketing arm, Tequila, in Hong Kong. Alongside banking information, it includes lifestyle content for high net worth customers.
The agency works with brands in China such as the Intercontinental Hotel Group and Diageo's Johnnie Walker whisky brand.
Mr. Gearing has lived in China for the past ten years. From 2004 until the end of last year, he worked at TBWA Group's direct marketing arm, Tequila, most recently as general manager of one-to-one marketing.
Before that, he was general manager of the agency's Beijing office. Earlier he was director, integrated business solutions for Wunderman in Greater China.
Return to the Ad Age China home page here