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Monday November 26, 2007

Yadu aims to attract with Disney cartoon characters

StarBiz China: BY LIU JIE



TRANSFORMING Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh into home appliances might indeed seem like a cartoon skit, but that is exactly what entertainment giant Walt Disney and China’s Yadu Science and Technology Co Ltd have done.

“Our hi-tech products with classic cartoon figures should attract more consumers at home and abroad,” says He Lumin, founder and chief designer of Yadu.

He says that it is mutually beneficial due to Disney’s huge expectations from the Chinese market and Yadu’s next step in overseas expansion.

China’s earliest air humidifier and purifier maker and the world’s second largest media and entertainment company are collaborating in product development, sales, brand authorisation and marketing.

“The key value of the agreement is co-branding,” says Yu Renbo, a researcher with the Development Research Center under the State Council.

The approach means Disney authorises Yadu to use its well-known cartoon images for its home electric appliances, while Yadu makes Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh-shaped designs for its flagship products, spreading awareness of these characters.

“It helps develop brands through joint marketing, which is conducive to both because instead of Brand A having five ads and Brand B having five ads, now they both can have 10,” explains Yu.

Other such campaigns have included Intel’s cooperation with computer makers to carry the now-familiar Intel Inside sticker, the collaboration between China Mobile’s M-zone service and the National Basketball Association and Coca-Cola joining with network game World of Warcraft.

Disney’s co-branding partners are all noted multinationals, such as credit card giant Visa, UK-based chain retailer Tesco, and hamburger king McDonald’s.

Beijing-based Yadu is the world’s second largest maker of indoor air quality (IAQ) products – a promising sector due to growing health consciousness globally – and has over 90% of the Chinese market. It also holds patents for 70% of core technologies needed to make IAQ products.

Stanley Cheung, president of Walt Disney Asia-Pacific, says the cooperation will bring Disney’s household business “bigger success” with the help of Yadu’s strength in domestic marketing and technology. Both Yadu and Disney say that co-branding will be their key task in China over the next two years, while Yadu promises it will invest one-third of its marketing budget in the effort.

After the first five series of cartoon humidifiers hit the market, the two companies will further cooperate by adding more Disney cartoon elements into small home appliances. Different from other authorised use of the iconic images, the US media and entertainment giant will also provide support to Yadu for the retail distribution work and product design and development.

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