FYI 3.31.2010

China's Package Goods Sales Growth Slows to 5%; Beijing Mobile Hires Cheil for GoTone; Economist Group Appoints Rob Ferguson as Sales Director; Interpublic Opens Regional Reprise Media Hub in Hong Kong; Taobao Offers Data Sharing Service; Turner Launches First TruTV Channel in Asia

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Package goods sales grew by 5% in China in 2009, down from 15% in the previous year, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Food sales fell, partly because of the tainted milk scandal that hit the country in late 2008, and a drop in cooking oil prices. At the same time, there was growth in premium-priced products in both food and non-food categories. Local consumers are shifting to healthier products, and are willing to pay more for safety and quality.
China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile phone service provider, has selected Cheil Worldwide to handle marketing and branding for the youth-oriented GoTone platform operated by its Beijing Mobile division.

The $6.5 million appointment follows a pitch against the Beijing offices of Ogilvy & Mather, Publicis Worldwide, BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide and two local agencies, WE Marketing Group and Joyous. For the past three years, Publicis has handled the account, while Ogilvy & Mather and Joyous handle creative for other China Mobile services and products in Beijing.

Cheil will work on the customer retention and other customer service businesses of GoTone, China Mobile's largest consumer brand.

The Economist Group has appointed Hong Kong-based Rob Ferguson as sales director for Hong Kong, South Korea and Southeast Asia. Mr. Ferguson will handle ad sales for The Economist, The Economist online and Intelligent Life, along with sales of sponsored research. Previously, he was managing director of Questex Media Group, which publishes magazines and web sites in Asia and organizes events and conferences across the region.
Interpublic Group's Mediabrands division has launched a regional hub office for its search and social marketing specialist agency Reprise Media in Hong Kong. Interpublic has already opened Reprise Media offices in Australia, France, the U.K., Germany and Spain.

The Hong Kong office will work with advertisers aligned with Mediabrands agencies Initiative and Universal McCann in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand, providing integrated search capabilities in paid search, search engine optimization and social media marketing.

Search engine marketing "is becoming more and more important in delivering positive business results," said Ruth Stubbs, president, Asia/Pacific of Mediabrands Ventures in Singapore.

The Hong Kong office is led by Anna Chan, who was recently appointed as Reprise Media's managing director, Asia. Previously, she was UM's head of search, Asia/Pacific. Before that, she managed direct sales teams and search marketing campaigns in Asia at Yahoo.

Taobao, an e-commerce site operated by eBay rival Alibaba Corp., has launched a data sharing service to help small businesses by giving them access to its database of aggregate consumer transaction records.

Taobao hopes the new service will hel[ its small business customers gain more insight into important aspects of their businesses such as inventory, product design and offerings.

"With better data, consumers will be able to shop more intelligently while manufacturers will be able to better customize product offerings," said Zeng Ming, chief strategy officer of Alibaba Group.

Turner Broadcasting System will launch its U.S. channel truTV in Asia, starting with a debut on Singapore's StarHub platform on April 1, 2010.

Sunny Saha, general manager, Asia of Turner Entertainment Networks in Hong Kong, describes truTV's genre as "actuality." The channel will offer unscripted programming that is "not staged, re-enacted or contrived."

Programs on the Asian feed, which will be introduced in other markets around the region later this year, will include The Smoking Gun Presents, The Principal's Office, The Investigators, Hollywood Justice and Speeders.

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