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Chinese firms build image through Hollywood

BEIJING, China --Six years ago, Shanghai Metersbonwe Fashion and Accessories Co. Ltd. decided on something drastic to upgrade its brand reputation — something different from traditional advertising through concerts or representation by pop singers.

The Chinese midrange clothing retailer invited the producer of the Hollywood blockbuster series “Transformers” to its Shanghai headquarters, and after the visit to its four-floor flagship store, the producer was impressed.

Metersbonwe's logo duly appeared, briefly, in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

Its T-shirt with the authorized Transformers image notched up sales around 10,000 at a store in Shanghai in a week.

During the shooting of “Transformer 3: Dark of the Moon,” Metersbonwe wanted more exposure. But it didn't want its clothes damaged during fight scenes this time.

To everyone's surprise and delight, Shia LaBeouf, who played the lead character Sam Witwicky, liked its T-shirts and wore one during a scene with his girlfriend at home.

That five minutes of brand appearance on a blockbuster movie proved a triumph for the clothing retailer.

“Unlike our other marketing strategies, that brand placement in a Hollywood movie had a greater impact on young people nationwide,” said Xie Wei, brand manager of Metersbonwe since 2008.

“They were exactly our target customers.”

Xie said working with a United States movie major has been the best marketing the company has done, calling it “small investment, big turnover.”

Now half of its marketing budget is invested in this type of entertainment marketing.

Brand placement in “Transformers” has also involved other Chinese brands, ranging from milk products and computers to home appliances.

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