FYI 9.15.2010

DDB Guoan Wins White Elephant Noodle; Dongfeng Nissan to Create Venucia Brand; TurnOut Appoints Caroline Casey; Prosper Shows Internet Ad Revenue Increase; G2 Buys DPI; Alibaba Hires Lowe and Zenith for Taobao Mall; Bite Acquires OneXeno; Celestial Appoints Gillian Zhao

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Baixiang Group, China's third-largest instant noodle maker, has appointed DDB Guoan to develop advertising to help launch its White Elephant brand in five Chinese provinces where the noodle brand is not currently sold. The long-term retainer agreement will focus on brand management and product development for the brand's wheat and spare-ribs flavor noodles that will be part of a new product line called You Mai Liang Pin.
Dongfeng Nissan Passenger Vehicle Co. has created a new vehicle brand called Venucia to accelerate sales growth and target less-affluent Chinese households. The car maker will set up a team to oversee the brand's design, R&D, manufacturing, marketing and sales network.

Dongfeng Nissan, a joint venture between Nissan Motor Co. and local partner Dongfeng Motor Corp. that currently sells Nissan-brand cars, will start selling Venucia cars by 2012. The brand's name is derived from the Roman word "Venus," according to Nissan. The brand will be aimed at China's mass-market vehicle segments and rely on existing Nissan platforms to lower costs. It will target Chinese consumers that earn around RMB 50,000, or $7,000, a year.

"In the future, we aim to sell more than one million vehicles annually and the new brand will play an important role by offering practical models with class-leading quality," said Fumiaki Matsumoto, Dongfeng Nissan's managing director.

Dongfeng Nissan already makes the X-Trail, Bluebird Sylphy, Qashqai, Livina, Livina Geniss, Tiida and Teana models in China. Through July, sales totaled 386,131 units, up 39% from a year earlier. Nissan's other China joint venture, Zhenzhou Nissan Automobile Co., makes Paladin and NV200 vehicles. It sold 8,795 vehicles in the first seven months, up 74% year-on-year.

Nissan-Dongfeng's decision to launch its own brand is part of a growing trend among China's automotive joint ventures. In March, BYD Co. and Germany's Daimler AG formed a joint venture to produce electric vehicles in the south China city of Shenzhen. They also agreed to create a new, as-yet unnamed brand to be owned by both companies. And in July, PSA Peugeot Citroen formed a joint venture with Changan Automobile Group Co. in Shenzhen to produce Citroens and introduce a new joint brand.
--Reporting by Automotive News China, a publication of Crain Communications

Hong Kong-based digital media and content company TurnOut Ventures has appointed Caroline Casey as executive director of operations.

While overseeing TurnOut's day-to-day operations, she will manage the company's product portfolio, which includes the iconic cartoon bunny character Tuzki and an expanding catalog of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). She is also responsible for product strategy and managing game publishing, sales and marketing, and customer service

Previously, she was Turner Broadcasting System's London-based regional digital director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, overseeing 25 websites, as well as gaming activities and internet, mobile and IPTV initiatives for Turner channels like Cartoon Network.

Internet ad revenue is surging in China, according to Prosper China's second-quarter survey of 18,089 Chinese consumers.

The survey shows 81.4% of Chinese consumers (ages 18-54) say surfing the internet is a favorite way to spend free time, making it the No. 1 leisure activity. When searching the web, an overwhelming majority of 18-to-54 year-olds choose (76.0%) as their primary search engine. Chinese aged 18-to-34 (76.7%) and 35-to-54 (75.3%) agree. Movies and maps top the lists of categories searched most often, followed by clothing/shoes, comparative shopping, online entertainment, and travel.

More than half of Chinese (56.3%) aged 18-to-54 regularly research products online before purchasing in store, especially younger consumers A majority (50.8%) also regularly purchase products online.

Digital media's influence on Chinese shoppers' purchases does vary by category and age. Overall, digital media is more effective when influencing automobile purchases compared to grocery purchases. Within the automobile category, internet advertising and blogging are more influential among older consumers. In the grocery category, digital media has a stronger influence on consumers aged 18-to-34 compared to the 35-54 age group.

Grey Group's G2 brand activation agency network has acquired a majority stake in DPI, an integrated shopper-marketing consultancy based in Hong Kong, with offices in Guangzhou and Shanghai. DPI offers shopper-based design, retail space design, merchandising systems design, experiential design and environmental design for marketers like Procter & Gamble Co., GlaxoSmithKline, Mead Johnson, Ferrero, Nestea, Lee Kum Kee, Haier Group and Hong Kong Tourism Board.
Hangzhou-based Alibaba Group has appointed Lowe Worldwide and Zenith Media to handle creative and media, respectively, for a new campaign promoting Taobao Mall, the e-commerce giant's B2C online shopping site. The agencies will help build the Taobao Mall's brand and drive traffic to the site.

The online mall, part of Taobao, the company's C2C shopping site, features virtual stores run by retailers as well as marketers such as Procter & Gamble Co. and Adidas.

Bite Communications has acquired OneXeno, a Hong Kong-based regional digital marketing firm that works with advertisers like Coach, eBay, PCCW, SaSa, Smartone-Vodafone, Swire Group, Toys R Us, and Turner Entertainment Interactive Media. OneXeno's founder Michael Zung joins Bite as managing director, digital, Asia/Pacific.
Celestial Pictures has appointed Gillian Zhao Fang in Beijing as managing director, China, in charge of growing channel distribution, content licensing, and film and television series production in the mainland. Previously, she was senior VP, sales and syndication at Star Group, responsible for News Corp.'s division's advertising sales, distribution and syndication in China.

Celestial Pictures owns the Shaw Brothers Film Library, the world's largest Chinese film library and Ms. Zhao will help drive distribution of the SB Library to traditional and new media platforms in China. She will also develop partnerships with digital platforms and content creators in China and create new IPs based on iconic Shaw Brothers films and characters.

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