FYI 2.11.09

Anheuser Busch-InBev Appoints TBWA; JWT Allies With Linksus; Liguo Hires Leo Burnett; Clara Wong Leaves BBDO

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Anheuser Busch-InBev has appointed TBWA Worldwide to handle advertising and activation-based work for three Chinese regional brands, Double Deer, KK and Red Rock. The Omnicom Group agency pitched for the business against incumbent JWT and another WPP agency, Ogilvy & Mather. The media business remains with Publicis Groupe's Zenith Media.

The appointment was made before the surprise resignation this week of Anheuser-Busch's longtime Chief Creative Officer Bob Lachky, who helped to create some of the most memorable and iconic ad campaigns of the past two decades, including "Wassup?!," the Budweiser frogs and "Real Men of Genius," the most-awarded radio campaign in history.

In an unrelated development, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's biggest brewer by sales, has agreed to sell most of its stake in China's Tsingtao Brewery for $667 million to Japan's Asahi Breweries.

In 2005, Anheuser-Busch raised its stake in Tsingtao Brewery to 27% by exercising convertible bonds worth $145.56 million in China's largest brewer. InBev took control of that investment when it acquired Anheuser-Busch late last year for $52 billion. Anheuser-Busch InBev is selling 19.9% of its stake in Tsingtao and will keep a minority holding of about 7%. Anheuser-Busch InBev is the No. 3 brewer in China, with stakes in 20 local breweries.
JWT has formed a strategic alliance with Linksus, a Chinese public relations and events company with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The WPP agency is already working with Linksus on projects for Anta and several pitch projects.

Linksus, founded in 1999, has over 600 employees across China. The alliance could evolve into a financial partnership in the months ahead, said Tom Doctoroff, JWT's Shanghai-based CEO, Greater China and area director, Northeast Asia.

Linksus "grasps the importance of insight-driven ideas, ones that trigger consumer participation," said Mr. Doctoroff. "They have a fundamental grasp of what motivates Chinese people at all levels of society."

The PR specialist also has a technology-based media management platform that "ensures all programs achieve maximum reach and consistency. This combination of strategic cut through and executional breadth makes them unique in China."
Liguo Garment Production Co., a children's wear brand based in Guangzhou, has appointed Leo Burnett to manage its market research and develop a holistic communications strategy for its brand in China.

Liguo Garment Production started 19 years ago and has more than 600 retail shops, located in most of China's large and medium-sized cities. Its products are also distributed in Russia, Italy, and parts of eastern Europe and the Middle East.

With China's population exceeding 1.3 billion and 20 million newborns expected every year, the country's children's wear market is estimated to be worth over 100 billion RMB ($14.6 billion) a year.

However, there still isn't a dominant brand or company that strictly focuses on children's wear. Spotting a potential market, Liguo decided to partner with an international ad agency to build its brand and strengthen its lead in the Chinese market and abroad, said Lin Weijian, the company's founder and general manager.
Clara Wong has resigned as CEO of Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide ad agency and below-the-line arm, Proximity, in Hong Kong, a role she held for two-and-a-half years. She will spend the next few months working with both companies in Hong Kong to "make sure that we maintain our momentum," Ms. Wong said in a statement. Her successor has not been named, according to Singapore-based Chris Thomas, BBDO's chairman-CEO, Asia.

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