Investment arm buys stake in Filmworks China

Updated: 2012-12-19 07:58

By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)

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GroupM, the media investment management arm of global communications services group WPP plc, has bought a controlling stake in Filmworks China, the entertainment marketing agency.

The acquisition comes in response to a growing demand among domestic companies to build their branding in China and globally, by being associated with world-class global entertainment assets, including Hollywood blockbusters.

The two-year old Filmworks China has negotiated several high-profile placements for Chinese brands including TCL Television, Chinese fashion organization Metersbonwe Group Co Ltd, and Yili Group's Shuhua milk brand, in the Hollywood blockbuster Transformers 3.

According to the most recent industry information, there are an estimated eight cinema screens opening in China every day, doubling box office income since 2009.

China is now considered the world's second-largest advertising market. Its culture and entertainment industry is estimated to be worth more than 100.8 billion yuan ($16.1 billion), said Liu Cuiming, an analyst at EntGroup Inc, an entertainment industry research service provider in Beijing.

She said brand and product placement in films grossed more than 300 million yuan last year, and that figure is expected to have doubled by the end of this year. Organizations in the automobile and drinks sectors were the biggest buyers.

Liu said there is a growing appetite by Chinese brands to increase their global image, particularly in cooperation with the international entertainment sector.

"For local brands in pursuit of global influence, Hollywood films offer powerful access to larger audiences than domestic ones," she added.

Xie Wei, a brand manager at Metersbonwe, said that working with major US movie makers represented a "small investment, for a big return" and half of its marketing budget is currently being invested in this type of entertainment marketing.

Bessie Lee, China CEO of GroupM, the parent company of agencies including Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, Mindshare and Xaxis, said acquiring Filmworks China will expand its entertainment marketing capability, and provide clients with exclusive access to world-class media players.

Lee added that GroupM has total media billing in excess of $5.11 billion.

"Hollywood films represent a huge opportunity for domestic brands to connect with consumers here in China, as well as those globally," Lee said.

"Few other types of media offer this kind of opportunity for reach and engagement on such a massive scale with international appeal."

Sirena Liu, founder of Filmworks China, added: "In joining GroupM, we will help clients create marketing platforms in partnership with entertainment property owners of some of the world's most sought-after assets."

Filmworks is the only company in China authorized to represent some of the most prominent Hollywood studios and gaming companies on licensing, promotion and sponsorship.

Their partners include Dreamworks Animation, Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Electronic Arts and the Bruce Lee Enterprise.

(China Daily 12/19/2012 page16)