Profero acquires Blue Flying Fish

And other news in Greater China

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SHANGHAI--Profero, an independent digital communications group, has completed its takeover of Blue Flying Fish (BFF), a Shanghai-based advertising and media sales company.

The deal marks the first time an international advertising, media or other marketing services business has acquired 100% of a local company and been approved to operate it without a Chinese partner. A World Trade Organization ruling went into effect in December 2005 permitting foreign agencies to apply for independent licenses in China.

“While there has been a recent flood of announcements regarding office set-ups, minority investments and new joint ventures by the likes of AKQA, aQuantitive, Omnicom and WPP, Profero’s achievement is unique even when compared to Bartle Bogle Hegarty,” said Daryl Arnold, Profero’s Group CEO, who splits his time between Shanghai and Tokyo. Bartle Bogle, 49% owned by Publicis Groupe, became the first major multinational ad agency to receive approval from Chinese authorities to operate as a wholly-owned foreign business in November 2005.

BFF will be rebranded Profero eventually. For now, the advertising and marketing services arm of the business will trade as Reddot Profero, reflecting the merger of Reddot, BFF’s design and marketing subsidiary, and the existing digital advertising and media planning and buying team of Profero in China.

Working with marketers such as AstraZeneca, the Australian Tourism Board, Johnson & Johnson and the Starwood Hotels Group, the combined team has 30 creative, media and technology people in Shanghai and Beijing offices.

Hershey teams up with Korea's Lotte to expand in China
HERSHEY, PA--The U.S. chocolate and confectionery marketer, Hershey Co., is stepping up its presence in China through a manufacturing partnership with Lotte Confectionery Co., a major Korean confectionery and ice cream manufacturer.

The joint venture, located near Shanghai in Jinshan, will be in operation by June 2007, and will manufacture products for both companies, including Hershey’s Kisses and Reese's bars and Lotte's Xylitol gum. Products will be on store shelves as early as August 2007.

The agreement is part of a strategic alliance to explore opportunities for marketing and distribution of products throughout Asia, namely in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines. As part of the agreement, Hershey will provide Lotte with expertise and distribution capabilities in the U.S. as well. It will help test and distribute Lotte's Xylitol gum and other products.

"We know our brands appeal to Chinese consumers, and we are taking a significant step in building the supply chain capabilities to bring our products to market. Working with Lotte, we'll be able to produce affordable products in the right flavors and formats for the local Chinese market, as well as regional Asian markets,” said J.P. Bilbrey, Hershey’s senior VP in a statement. “The manufacturing facility in Jinshan also gives us the flexibility to make products closer to our consumers, bringing locally relevant and innovative new products to markets faster and fresher."

Time Warner offers HBO on demand service in Hong Kong
HONG KONG--Time Warner’s Home Box Office home entertainment division has launched its first on-demand TV service in Asia on Hong Kong’s Now broadband TV service. Available from Feb. 5 for $3.50 per month, HBO On Demand allows subscribers to choose content to watch at any time from a selection of 40 Hollywood movies and HBO series like Weeds, Sopranos 6, Entourage 3, Big Love and Rome II.

Nikon appoints Carat in China
SHANGHAI—Nikon has selected Aegis-owned Carat to oversee its $10 million media planning and buying business in China. Carat’s Shanghai office collaborated with its sibling agency in Tokyo to win the business in a pitch that was presented in Japanese. They competed against three Japanese agencies, Dentsu, Hakuhodo and the incumbent, ADK.

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