FYI 12.22.2010

Unilever Strengthens Ties to Baidu and Sohu; CIC and Sina Build Social Media Intelligence; Maxus Appoints Stephanie Li; Tencent Launches QQ in Foreign Languages; Initiative Hires Angela Ng; Compass Visa Appoints Euro RSCG; First Club Med in China Opens; Japanese Brands Excel in Car Dependability; CSL Creates Augmented Reality Game

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Unilever signed strategic cooperative agreements with Chinese search giant Baidu.com and internet portal Sohu.com, and strengthened collaborations with other internet companies including Sina, Microsoft Corp.'s MSN, Alibaba Group's Taobao and Tencent.

Alan Jope, Unilever's chairman of Greater China has called for greater use of digital media in China since he relocated to Shanghai in early 2009. The company's investment in digital marketing nearly tripled in 2010, and is expected to continue to grow.

Unilever said in a statement that consumers spend "around 30% of their total media consumption online." As one of the biggest fast-moving consumer goods companies, Unilever "needs to accelerate the online presence of brands to ensure that the company is following the Chinese consumer to her media channels of choice."

CIC, an internet word of mouth research and consulting firm, signed a strategic partnership with Sina, one of China's leading internet portals and social media platforms. The alliance will address the growing demand of social business in China, which has a complex social media landscape, and leverage Sina's powerful microblogging platform, Weibo (known as "the Twitter of China").

"CIC has privileged access to analyze the massive volume of rich data posted on Sina Weibo," said Sam Flemming, CIC's founder and chairman in Shanghai. The "partnership will bring new methodologies and applications that can demonstrate the value of Weibo data to advertisers as well as help them participate in the conversations."

Maxus appointed Stephanie Li managing director of its Guangzhou office. Previously, she was general manager of ZenithOptimedia Group, Guangzhou. Ms. Li has also held senior roles at DDB Group in Guangzhou and Shanghai, Starcom in Guangzhou and ZenithOptimedia in Beijing.
Tencent Holdings, whose popular QQ service dominates China's instant-messaging market, is taking on MSN and Yahoo by offering its service in English, Japanese and French to target overseas users with acquaintances in China and expatriates. Tencent also plans to set up a social networking site in English early next year in China, where Facebook has been blocked since mid-2009. Tencent's QQ service had 637 million active user accounts at the end of September, while Qzone, its Chinese-language social networking site (SNS), had 481 million active user accounts and is the top-ranked SNS in China by page views and unique visitors.
Interpublic Group's Initiative Media appointed Angela Ng in Shanghai as China CEO, responsible for Initiative's development in traditional and digital communications as well as one-to-one brand-building. Most recently, Ms. Ng was general manager at SCMP Magazine, where she managed InStyle China for more than a year. She has also served as Starcom's managing director both in Beijing and Shanghai, and has worked at Omnicon Group's Mediawise and McCann Erickson.
Compass Visa, a joint venture between Singapore's DBS Group Holdings and Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, appointed Euro RSCG, Hong Kong to handle communication and creative services, responsible for brand management, customer acquisition and retention, and driving card usage. Compass Visa offers a Platinum and Everyday credit cards in Hong Kong as well as products aimed at students and first-time cardholders. The Havas-owned agency pitched against Tribal DDB.
Club Méditerranée has opened its first Club Med resort in China, where spending on domestic travel by affluent Chinese is rising fast. The club is located in Yabuli, a ski resort in Heilongjiang in China's northeast region. The 18-slope ski resort can handle 18,000 tourists a day and has a theme park and golf course for the summer months. Club Med plans to open four more resorts in China by 2014.

By 2020, China's tourist and vacation market is expected to represent 11% of its GDP, or $472 billion. In 2008, the number of Chinese tourists traveling abroad grew by 11.9% and those visiting domestic destinations rose 11.7%, while the number of foreign tourists visiting China fell by 1.4% due to the global economic crisis. The Chinese tourist and vacation market has grown at an average rate of over 20% for the last 30 years.

When the individual travel market opened up to Chinese tourists in 2003, Club Med established a sales presence in the country and now has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Canton and Changdu. In 2009, the group had 23,000 Chinese customers, a 24% increase from 2008. The company says the Chinese pay more per vacation than their French and American counterparts, at $186 per day in 2009. Club Med also has 60,000 customers of Chinese origin living in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

Japanese-made cars generally are China's most trouble-free vehicles in the second and third year of ownership, concludes a new study by J.D. Power and Associates, whose 2010 China Vehicle Dependability Study gave Japanese models top grades in five out of eight product segments. The study measured problems experienced by vehicle owners between the 13th and 36th months of ownership. A vehicle's overall dependability is determined by the number of problems reported per 100 vehicles.

In 2010, the average car model in China generated 298 problems per 100 vehicles. Engines and transmissions were responsible for the largest number of problems--71 per 100 vehicles--while the vehicle exterior category caused 53 problems.

The most frequent problems reported by customers were noisy brakes, loss of engine power when the air conditioning was turned on, defective windshield wipers and excessive wind noise. Up to 49% of owners said they replaced vehicle components within the past six months. The five most often replaced components are windshield wiper blades, tires, brake pads, exterior lights and horns.

J.D. Power's dependability study, its first in China, is based on evaluations from 10,672 owners of vehicles purchased between June 2007 and August 2009. The study evaluated 94 models from 38 different brands.
--This article was first published by Automotive News China, a publication of Crain Communications.

CSL New World Mobility Group, a joint venture between Hong Kong CSL and New World, has launched The Dream Factory, an augmented reality game designed to drive awareness and customer engagement around the launch of the new HTC Desire HD device among consumers of its One2Free mobile phone service.

The Dream Factory, which targets avid gamers on Sina.com, was created to educate users about the device's features and capabilities in a fun format. The game's facial recognition software drives users from one level to the next. The ultimate goal is to "catch" as many apps and feature icons as possible in the shortest time period. The flash game can be accessed through Sina HK's gaming section or www.one2free.com/dreamfactory.  

As part of One2Free's strategy to build a strong social network community, users can access the game via the One2Free Facebook fan page where a viral competition is taking place, or on the Sina's Hong Kong platform. To drive participation, a print campaign offers an exclusive game code distributed with MetroPOP magazine that gives users extra time to compete.

One2Free will give the top three winners HTC Desire HD phones when the competition ends Dec. 29, 2010. The game and marketing program were created by Omnicom agencies TBWA Worldwide, Tequila and OMD.


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