Interveiws with China Daily CEO Roundtable delegates on F1

An Interview with Rolf Beisswanger (R), Vice President, Corporate Sponsoring, Siemens AG.

Question: What are your expectations for the conference

Answer: It will provide great opportunities for local brands. I will be happy to share my views and experience with the local companies, to see us grow as one in the future, and to see success for years to come. Previously, there are only international major sponsors for F1. This year, however, we have one leading local company among the major sponsors.

Question:What do you see in the future for local Chinese brands?

Answer: Sports marketing is a serious business. It has reached a level beyond a fan-based business, and CEOs are getting involved just for the sake of getting involved.

Sports marketing has strategic goals behind it. To succeed, we have to have a vision, a mission, and think how to reach our goals within the next period of time.

F1 as platform offers great opportunities for local brands, if you play the game right. You have to have the actual money, the right tools to measure the strategic goals, and you have to crate and establish relationships with the media.

Question: Is Siemens involved with the 2008 Olympics? What can you see happening in China with the Olympics?

Answer: We're not involved in the Olympics as a sponsor. Right now, we have made a strategic decision to start with and focus on F1. But I do believe that the Olympic Games will play a major role in the development of sports marketing in China.

Question: How do you link up Siemens' F1 sponsorship with your local business in China?

Answer: It will definitely help build our brand image.
There is the direct opportunity to showcase our performance through F1.
There is also the new racetrack in Turkey, which is an example of our goal to play a major role in developing sports facilities in the future. We have employee programs, internal programs to leverage F1. There are also road shows to showcase cars, to make our employees proud of the company, both in Europe and China.

Question: At the corporate level, what are Siemens CSR (corporate social responsibility) strategies?

Answer: Siemens is dedicated to CSR programs, and we have links between our sponsorship program and CSR program.

Interview with Mr. Charles Zhang (C), Chairman & CEO, Sohu.com

Question: As a major internet company in China, what so you think of conference like the F1 Global Business Conference and its significance?
Answer: In the case of this F1 Conference, since F1, as a brand, is gaining more and more exposure, the conference itself will attract a lot more attention than before. Compared to some years ago, when the event only attracted a small group of people, now it appeals to a larger group, and the group's financial ability has also grown. Looking from the angle of having a international business conference, since local companies are growing both in scale and financially, the commercial value of these conferences will continue to grow as time goes on.

Question: For local brands to become the mainstream shoulder-to-shoulder with international brands, how long do you think the process will take?

Answer: At this point in time, many local companies are starting to participate in international events, including global sporting events such as F1. The process is definitely taking place.
In light industry, the development is indeed rapid. In the area of heavy industry and national industry, I think that the participation and contribution of local private companies is crucial. The future development of these areas in China depends very much on their involvement and investment.
Question: From what you see on Sohu.com, how are the consumers responding to F1? Is the response positive or negative?
Answer: Young people, especially young men, are responding very positively to the event, and showed a lot of interest. This brings us to the importance of reporting on the internet, and media interaction with its audience, such as reviews, critiques and discussions.

Interview with Feng Jun, Chairman of Beijing Huaqi Information Digital Technology Co., Ltd

Question: Why do you choose to attend F1? What kind of result do you want to get?

Answer: Huaqi is a leading high-tech company headquartered in Zhongguancun, Beijing. At the beginning of Huaqi's development history, our first brand was "Patriot" which is translated literally from Chinese. We aimed to keep it as a meaning of "national flag". In 1996, Huaqi needed a further development, so we needed a new brand to support our products. However, "Patriot" had been registered in many countries already. Finally, we translated "Patriot' into "aigo". In 2003, the amount sells of "aigo" MP3 was three times as much as the amount sells in Samsung. I am very proud of our products because we won the Korea as Chinese National Football had never won the Korean National Football Team for 27 years. So I think if we can do it in China, we can also win them in the international market. Therefore, I planed to go into the international marketing with our new brand. In 2004, we had 21% market shares, compared with Samsung which only had 11% in the same field.
Our company culture: A stands for Number 1, I stands for self, Go means action. We are going to get the No.1 once we start.

Question: Why do you want to sponsor F1?

Answer: Our goal is to be Chinese Sony and Samsung. "Made in China" has been widely accepted by the whole world. We need to establish the recognition of "made by china". We are pursuing to reach the same level as Sony and Samsung in the world by our technical research and brand promotion.
F1 focuses on the hi-tech around global. It stands for passion and high-speed. By making use of the impact of F1, I plan to develop "aigo" into international marketing world step by step. I think it is a better way to get our goal which is to be Chinese Sony and Samsung.

Question: Would you please compare with iPod because iPod is a very famous brand in the field of MP3?

Answer: There is one of French Media which gave a comment few days before: the next generation of iPod is MP4 858 from "aigo". Actually, the technology in our country is much higher than that in other countries. Meanwhile, our products have relevant low price. What our only shortage is the reputation of our brand. For example, all the equipment about recording and storage device on the space aircraft "Shenzhou VI" are our products.

Question: I know from the very beginning of first negotiation, you just needed five days and then made contract with F1. Do you think it is too short for such a big event?
Answer: Because"F1 is high speed", so we have to be high speed. I talk about the very general idea with Mr Yu Zhifei in Beijing. We had lots of ideas in common because both of us really hope to help national brand to become famous in the world as a worldwide brand.

Question: What is reward?

Answer: It is a long term plan. At present, Huaqi is still in the process of growing. We can grow up under the impact of F1, on the other hand, when we become more developed, we can support F1 further. So we become the first special cooperator with F1 Global Commercial Summit in china. When you arrive in Shanghai, you will see our brand flag on the both sides of streets.

Question: Do you think "aigo" is deemed more nationalism?

Answer: I don't think so. Just like many famous brands in Japan and South Korea all have their own nationalism character. Eg. LG, Samsung etc. Only if we respect our nation, we could have the opportunity to be successful in business world. If you do not love your own country, our brand, our product does not have the root. Our nation is the very root. Also, it is the same in Europe and U.S. In 1996, my friends suggested me all the high-tech equipments are imported from overseas. The name of 'aigo' outdated. But with the development of my products, 'aigo' has been accepted gradually by the general public. Just like at before, the cigarette were only 555 and Malboro, now what the consumers love is "zhonghua" or other local brands.

Question: what are your targets of consumers?

Answer: MP3 is for the youth.; MP3 in watch is for the office people; Electronical equipment is for student. MP4 is for adult. We co-operate many technologies into people's common life. I have very excellent talents working for me. They always work over time. It is impossible in Euro and U.S.

Question: IT industry requires the ability of research, the ability of brand and the ability of management. What do you think about?

Answer: You're absolutely right. I have the most excellent research team in the world. But Huaqi needs to study the management. And the shortage is brand impact around the worldwide business market. Now all the local digital camera brands only have 1% marketing shares in China. We aim to get 10% shares in 2006 in the field of digital camera. Now, we already have the first 8,000,000, pixels digital camera in China which is only sold RMB 2999 closing to the capability of public's acceptance.

Question: For instance, Samsung has a strong support from their people and government. What about this situation in China?

Answer: The innovation ability in Chinese Hi-Tech companies is absolutely excellent in the world. iPod doesn't have screen, Samsung only has black and white screen, we have already colour screen. The key point is our products have the same battery consumption. So the consumers must choose our product. This year we create a new kind of MP3 which can see film, watch MTV through colour screen but in fact although we input many new technologies but do not increase the cost dramatically. On Oct 18th, few days later, we are going to release the largest music download website in the world. We've collected nearly 72,000 songs from four big music companies, compared with iTune which only has 2 music companies as its co-operation partner and 30,000 songs. It is also the first time of the development of Chinese copyright. It's only RMB 0.99 per songs which satisfied Chinese customers practically.

Question: F1 is relevant new for general public. As a wide-accepted brand, what is the main obstacle? Do you plan to input your brand into other sports like golf?

Answer: We have our own International Chess Club which is leaded by Mr Xie Jun, the champion of international chess game. Why do we choose Chess? Because we think we are doing the IT business which collects the top talents' intelligence. The same as IT industry, Chess is also a game standing for intelligence and the sprit of teamwork. With some development, we input Chinese Chess into Chess then create our own 'aigo' Chess. The difference is the usage of cannon. The Chinese people are the most intelligence people in the world. The Chinese people know how to make use of cannon. It is Chinese way of thinking. So we import international chess with our traditional rules. After China entered the WTO, we should follow the international marketing rules, and meanwhile, we should keep our own local features. The more nationalism, the more international.

Question: What is you future plan?

Answer: We aim to follow the way of Sony and Samsung. We have four sub divisions in Singapore, French, Hong Kong and India respectively. Singapore department is more mature. Nowadays, we have the equal ability of innovation and research except our brand impact.

Question: what is your company's culture?

Answer: "Aigo" has "Six Win" rule: public, agent, staff, company, supplier and society. From "public' to "society", it is a value chain. Only if we get all the parties satisfied, we'll win. Our 1,500 staffs provide services to 3,000 agents. 3,000 provide services to 1,300,000,000 people then 5,000,000,000 consumers in the whole world. Now china is more open than before. That is the reason why we have China Daily and F1. So I believe the open China support Huaqi to develop more faster.

Question: Could you tell me about your staff?

Answer: I have 1,500 staffs. Among them, the average age is 27 years old. All the researcher hold master degree and other staffs hold bachelor degree. At present, our directorate members are all Chinese because Huaqi is just in the process of developing. We have 12 senior directorates and we have regular meeting every week. So it's really high efficiency.

Question: Among Fortune 500, there are Chinese 15 companies including 14 state-owned companies and one Hong Kong Company. What do you think of the future of private company?

Answer: Now, Huaqi is a small seedling. It must become a strong tree in the future and become a flag of Chinese private company. So sooner or later, private companies will be the top 500 in the world.

 
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