Shantel Wong

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[Hong Kong] Under Shantel Wong's brand leadership and innovative ideas, China has become McDonald's Corp.'s fastest-growing market in the world.

Since 1991, McDonald's has opened 570 restaurants in China, already one of its top 10 markets; 100 more are likely in 2004.

Besides advertising Chinese-style menu items such as red bean sundaes, taro pies and seafood soup, Ms. Wong is pushing the chain's food quality and hygiene, important points since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Asia.

`I'm lovin' it' in China

Ms. Wong, a petite, energetic Hong Kong native in her 30s, has also eagerly adapted the global "I'm lovin' it" campaign.

In place of Justin Timberlake, McDonald's China Development Co. did a Mandarin version of the "I'm lovin' it" jingle. Ms. Wong's team also helped develop interactive bus-shelter mixing decks that play the tune-kind of a Chinese rap song-and allow people to add their own "scratches" and "riffs."

The fast-feeder enlisted body-painted street artists and created a unique hand signal, with outstretched thumb, forefinger and pinkie finger. Counter staff now use that gesture to greet customers. Then there's the special dance.

"The staff love it," she says. "[Staffers] dance in front of shops and inside restaurants, involving customers in team spirit, beyond our food and quick service. McDonald's represents brand aspiration in China."

Chinese men even propose to girlfriends at McDonald's, and the restaurants are a popular location for company parties.

Some of Ms. Wong's touches are being picked up elsewhere in Asia like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea.

Ms. Wong's enthusiasm has been noticed. Last December, McDonald's promoted her to chief marketing officer for China from senior director-marketing, a role she took on in 1999.

In an earlier Hong Kong marketing director job, her Snoopy promotion gripped Hong Kong. Adults and children lined up for hours every day over four weeks to collect 28 versions of small Snoopy dolls, each dressed in the outfit of a different country.

Using collectibles to sell combo meals worked wonders in Hong Kong, but in China, an undeveloped market, Ms. Wong places greater emphasis on raising McDonald's brand image and local relevance. Her goal: to make the brand part of the fabric of urban China.

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