Will Facebook Succeed in China?

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If the rumors are true, Facebook is planning to enter China’s social-media market through a partnership with the local search giant Baidu.

Facebook will face strong local competition and the same regulatory and political pressures that defeated other Western internet giants like Google, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon and Twitter, according to industry experts.

China already has “social-media properties providing value in a very fragmented social media landscape, so I’m just not sure what compelling value Facebook can provide in a meaningful way,” said Sam Flemming, founder and chairman of CIC. “To become literally the Facebook of China is not going to be easy in a market that’s already very social.”

In addition, Facebook may have waited too long, warned James Lee, a global media analyst at CLSA. “When you have a hyper-competitive space, you need to be there on day one.”

China’s appeal is understandable. The country is home to the world’s largest internet market and it has a vibrant social-media scene, with successful social-media sites such as RenRen, Kaixin001, Qzone and 51.com, Tencent’s QQ instant-messenger platform and Sina’s red-hot microblogging service Weibo.
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Chinese media analysts also question whether Facebook has picked the best suitor in Baidu.

“There is a natural relationship between search and social,” said T.R. Harrington, founder and CEO of Shanghai-based Darwin Marketing and a search-marketing specialist. But Baidu is not necessarily the best choice for Facebook to enter the Chinese market. “It would make a lot more sense to work with someone like Sina’s Weibo [or] Tencent,” established companies that understand China’s social-media market.

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Girl Scout uniforms to be made in China.

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The owners of a family-run New Jersey factory that makes uniforms for the Girl Scouts of America said they may be forced to close or lay off workers if the organization takes its business to China.

I have nothing against China…I am sure they will make them well…they are making fake Levi’s so well that even my Levi’s client can hardly tell the difference. They also used to make all of Chairman Mao’s cool uniforms as well.

It seems to me however that an American institution like the Girl Scouts should at least try and keep jobs in America.

Jackie Evans Inc. employs 90 workers at its plant in Passaic, a once-booming manufacturing city in northern New Jersey, about 10 miles west of New York City. They’ve been making uniforms and sashes for the sole client for about a decade.

The Girl Scouts told the company a few weeks ago that it would be seeking bids, including one from a company in China, according to Domenick Monaco, the son of owner Mario Monaco.

“Our main motive is to keep jobs in the United States, and find a fair way to keep prices affordable,” said Domenick Monaco, who helps run the company. He said his family was exploring ways to come up with a bid by the mid-November deadline, including seeking grants or government help to keep prices competitive.

Barry Horowitz, vice president and general manager for merchandise for the Girl Scouts, emphasized that no decision has been reached. The organization is soliciting proposals from four companies. Two are overseas, including one in China.

“We are engaging in good business practices,” he told reporters, “Like any manufacturer who uses fabric, we have an obligation to deliver the best value to our members and their parents.”
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‘Warrior’ aims to be China’s ‘Chuck Taylors’

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“Warrior” is a 75 year old shoe brand from Shanghai. Its original mission? To outfit China’s athletes with a simple and lightweight canvas trainer.
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Shanghai’s Warrior shoes is trying to beat Nike and Adidas on its home court. Known in Chinese as “Hui Li” (回力), the brand was a footwear favorite in China from the 60s to the early 80s. Today, not so much. Most Chinese youth prefer to be seen in Nike or Adidas.

But these days, “Warrior” is out to score a new audience in the West by positioning itself as a sort of hipster trainer with a story to tell.
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And let it be known, these are award-winning shoes. According to its China-based website, “Warrior” shoes have “successively won the State Silver Medal for Quality, the prize of the Chemical industry Ministry for high-quality products and the prize of Shanghai for products.”

These look like my old Chuck Taylors…I must have a pair.

Google Versus China’s Stand on Free Speech

Google’s announcement that China should either stop censoring Internet searches or risk a pullout by the search-engine giant rocked the online world Wednesday, leaving observers to break down the meaning of the provocative move.

By standing up to the communist regime, Google fashioned itself a champion of free speech — a mantle the California-based company has wrapped itself in, even as its decision to allow only limited results in China drew criticism.

But while many applauded Google’s bold stance, others questioned whether finances may have had as much to do with its move as freedoms.
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Google said Tuesday that the company and at least 20 others were victims of a “highly sophisticated and targeted attack” originating in China in mid-December, evidently to gain access to the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

A Google spokesman said intellectual property was stolen in the attack, while declining specifically to say what kind. But the company said the attacker or attackers gained access to the header — or subject-line information — from the e-mails of two human rights activists through the Google network.

The contents of the e-mails were not accessed, the spokesman said. As a result, the company said, it is no longer willing to abide by the filters that the Chinese government demanded on certain searches before allowing Google to operate in the country.

“We’d like to talk to the government about the ability to operate an unfiltered search engine in China, and that would be our preferred outcome,” Google chief legal officer David Drummond said. “However if that’s not possible, then we’ll have to consider other alternatives which could include shutting down the local site or even closing down our offices entirely.”

Tiananmen Protests 20 Year Anniversary

I know that this video is still banned in China and that many young people there have never seen this. I also think that with China’s new prosperity the youth may not realize the struggle that their parents went through. I put the video with Chinese commentary in case someone gets to see it.

How things change.

Two decades ago, China’s youth were at the forefront of a movement to bring democracy to the world’s most populous nation in demonstrations bloodily put down around Beijing’s central Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

Today, after years of breakneck economic growth, the young are more pro-government, more suspicious of the West, and genuinely proud of China’s achievements, such as the Beijing Olympics, making a repeat of June 4 unlikely.

The China of 20 years ago, where the chaos of the Cultural Revolution was still fresh in many people’s minds, is also very different from the China of today, with its shining skyscrapers, bustling malls and expanding middle class.

“One good thing about young people today is that they are luckier than in the past,” said Bao Tong, a former senior official purged after the 1989 demonstrations.

“My son and daughter grew up in difficult circumstances, with rationed food … They didn’t have enough nutrition, now, there are no grains coupons, no meat coupons.”

The potential for unrest has not gone away though thanks to the global economic crisis.

More than six million university students will try to enter China’s workforce this year. Up to a quarter could have difficulty finding jobs, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said in December, as the economy slows.
Many are already getting desperate.

The Yangtse Evening Post reported earlier this month that in the relatively affluent eastern province of Jiangsu, 46 university graduates had applied for jobs as public toilet attendants, such was the state of the labor market.

“Better to be a ‘toilet master’ than unemployed at home,” it cited one of the applicants as saying.

Now they are experiences both sides of capitalism.

The Old Athletes Versus the Young in Beijing

I realize that there is lots of controversy regarding the young gymnasts from China but one of the things I loved best about these Olympics was also a blow struck for the “old folk”. You know what I mean, those Olympians who were foolishly thought to be over the hill.

I will try and relate their performances to to my business where it seems like the young have a perceived edge in creativity.

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Dara Torres

41-year-old Dara Torres with her 1/100th of a second behind Silver Medal; Oksana Chusovitina with her Silver in the vault; and Constantina Tomescu-Dita with her Gold Medal in the marathon, were each the oldest person competing for their event, and came away winners in what’s typically seen as a young person’s game.

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Oksana Chusovitina

You hear a lot about the perils of age discrimination and let’s face it, it’s real and it does exist. But let’s take a page from these Olympians, and think about how you can turn your age into an advantage:

Great attitude. When Dara came up just short of the Gold Medal in each of her events, who would have blamed her for being upset, bummed out, or bitterly disappointed at missing her chance for the top rung?

But instead, she was a runner-up with grace.

She beamed. She laughed. She congratulated the winners. And she showed what sportsmanship at the highest levels is all about.

A great attitude like Dara’s is going to see you through the near-misses and the almost-had-its, and that, is going to make you the champion in the long run.

Use Wisdom. Constantina Tomescu-Dita out-thought the pack in the marathon.

Her strategic gamble to break away at the mid-point of the marathon paid off when her younger competitors thought, “Hey, she’s gotta be bluffing.”

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Constantina Tomescu-Dita

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, exploit your opponents’ youth and inexperience. Open up a wide gap when they think you’re taking it easy, and laugh your way to the Gold.

You’ve had a lot more years to train so you should be better!

Dara Torres broke a world record in the 50 mm freestyle that she first broke 26 years ago as a 15-year-old. Those two-dozen-plus years of training paid off for Dara, her stroke, her technique, and her mental discipline all improved.

Take advantage of the lessons you’ve learned over your life, you’re sharper, you’ve seen it all, and you’ve got a lot of learning to bring to bear on the business problems of your clients. Put your best foot forward and really showcase that expertise after all, it’s been a long time in the making!

OK, folks, those, at least, were the lessons that I picked up from watching the “Old Olympics.” I hope you found something similarly inspiring in all the performances these past two weeks that will help you raise your game.

Phelps, A Marketing Machine

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Phelps has gone global. A huge marketing machine behind Michael Phelps hit the ground running with a strategy in place to make him a global brand – and even richer.

A day after Phelps won his eighth gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, making him the most successful swimmer and Olympian of all time, corporate executives emerged from poolside well prepared to capitalize on his new-found fame.

But Phelps, 23, who was looking forward to going home to Baltimore to see his dog and visit with his friends and family, was unfazed at being called the hottest marketing tool to ever emerge from the Olympics and at his new celebrity status.

“It’s not about the money. I do what I do because I love it and that’s why I’m here,” Phelps said during an interview organized by one of his sponsors, the credit card company Visa, in an ornate chamber of the Prince Jun Palace in Beijing.beijing-2008-1

“I see myself as a normal person and the same kid I was four years ago, so I’m just living a dream right now,” he said.

Visa, which has sponsored Phelps since 2002, said the swimmer’s success at Beijing raised his visibility and would make possible a global campaign based around him.

“Michael Phelps is leaving Beijing as a global sports icon. He’s now with the likes of the Michael Jordans, Tiger Woods and Roger Federers and he’s earned every bit to be in that elite company,” said Michael Lynch, head of global sponsorship at Visa.

Phelps first became marketable after winning six gold medals at the 2004 Games in Athens. He has had a financial adviser for the past five years to help him manage his income and recently bought a house in Baltimore that he will move into after the Beijing Olympics.

But his success at the 2008 Games has put him in a different league, with a record 14 gold medals to his name, and on track to become the richest swimmer ever.

“This absolutely changes the game. The values will change, the depth of the programs he is involved with will change, the breadth of these programs will change,” said Phelps’s agent, Peter Carlisle.

Before Beijing, it was estimated that Phelps’s sponsorship deals earned him about $5 million a year, although Carlisle, who has acted as Phelps’s agent for six years, would not confirm this.

But as Phelps won gold after gold at Beijing, his appeal soared and television audiences in the United states, the world’s biggest media market, watched his victories in record numbers.

Joyce Julius & Associates, a sponsorship evaluator, estimated that Phelps’s air-time value to Speedo, another one of his sponsors, was $3.6 million after winning five golds – more than justifying the $1 million bonus that Speedo paid Phelps for matching Mark Spitz’s record of winning seven gold medals at a single Olympics.

Carlisle said that previous Olympians had struggled to stay in the public eye between the Games but that he was confident that Phelps Inc. would maintain its momentum because of a multilayered marketing strategy that was not focused only on swimming competitions.

Phelps has made it clear that his goal is to raise the profile of swimming.

As well as the advertisements for sponsors, he created a social network site for swimmers (www.swimroom.com) that sells merchandise like “Michael for President” T-shirts. He has also completed a documentary on swimming, runs swim clinics and has taken on various TV roles.

“You can’t compare the platform he has now to anything that any swimmer has had in the past,” Carlisle said. “He has worked to develop promotional platforms that can exist between the Games, irrespective of whether there is a competitive event.

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“I think he can make swimming much more than a once-every-four-year sport in terms of relevance to the general public,” he added.

But could Carlisle put a value on Phelps, which some marketing experts estimate could be worth up to $30 million a year? He said it was impossible to gauge but that the potential was enormous.

“If the strategy works with each of these platforms and business engines are fueled, this amounts over time to arguably exponential growth in efficiency and in value,” he said.