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Innovation & Design

Advertising of 2007 (China)

Coke, Lenovo, and others have launched original campaigns that have engaged and entertained consumers

With consumers in China anxiously awaiting for the New Year—and the Summer Olympic Games—to arrive, there has been an opportunity for smart marketers to engage with people from an early stage. Those who jump-started their activities in 2007 will definitely benefit in 2008 and beyond.

Lenovo has brought the general Chinese public a lot of pride. Clearly, Lenovo, like other key Chinese brands, is eager to become a global player. But Lenovo has been impressive, particularly since IBM's (IBM) computer manufacturing arm became a part of its business, thus making Lenovo one of the top laptop players in the world. Since then, Chinese people have not been shy to use Lenovo. Also impressive is how Lenovo stole the limelight from other sponsors (, 8/3/2007) by completely redesigning the Olympic torch.

Making it local

Owning the Olympic torch, with its modern, slick, but still definitively Chinese looks—and sending it around the world—is a smart move. It's the best part of the Olympic program for a Chinese corporation to own. Although a lot of other brands, both international and local, have also sponsored recruitment programs for torch runners, none has had the same kind of impact as Lenovo. Being the one to design the torch and launch it has made the difference here.

Their accompanying advertising film, shown on CCTV in China, attempts to create a big impact with lavish production values; it features people around the world coming together. Creatively, it's similar to films that other major brands have already made. But you can sense the intentions of the company—and the country—to be a part of the world. That aspiration may not seem relevant to a lot of other countries. But in China, it's an emotionally rich idea, and very inspirational.

On the flip side, but staying with the idea of taking your brand to the world, Coca-Cola has done a great job in localizing "the Coke Side of Life" in Hong Kong. They have run a year-long campaign in the SAR [Special Administrative Region of China], taking advantage of special occasions, such as the day on which exam results are published in summer, or the Christmas holiday, in order to engage its audience in a meaningful way. Of course the objective of the whole campaign is to try and build the brand's image, but the campaign is notable for its apparent sincerity. And people have claimed to find the activities built around the campaign genuinely enlightening.

Quirky approach

Imagine, for instance, that you are one of the many teenagers in Hong Kong. During Christmas, when there are lots of people around, there's not much to do but hang out amid the waves of foot traffic. Then, as you are strolling along the busy Tsimshatsui East, someone passes you something called "DIY Fun." Now you can make a twinkling Christmas decoration from a small lightbulb and paper. Teenagers have been sticking these twinkling lights along the busy street as decorations—and ads for Coke, which produced them. Or, when the public examinations results were about to be announced, Coke cheered up the students by asking local celebrities to produce short films, which were broadcast online and in malls.

Compared with the mainland and Hong Kong, Taiwan has had a tough time in 2007. People are busy dealing with politics, and even one of the top businessmen is running ads to argue with their leader about the state of the economy.

As the economy is doing badly, people have been looking for good deals. PX Mart, a very basic chain store, invested in TV advertising to tell people that it is there to provide good value. As far as I know, this is the very first time it has actively bought advertising. But it's also a great time for it to build its brand as everyone is so confused and so fed up that they are now seeking "no nonsense" brands and communication. The executions are straight to the point, very off-beat but also very funny. In one of them a hidden camera is set opposite one of the stores. A man standing right outside it asks people where he can find the nearest PX Mart. People don't know that it's right there, and they send him off in different directions. That, details the voice-over, is because PX Mart didn't want to waste money on advertising. This way they can offer savings inside. So if you are determined, you will find them—and can take advantages of the bargains.

There's a lesson for marketers and agencies: As long as you are determined to find the right creative solutions, you will find them.

Sheungyan Lo is Executive Creative Director, North East Asia, JWT.

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