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May 24, 2017

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Savvy successor revitalizes brand

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese food company Hsin Tung Yang Co. (HTY, 新東陽), famed for its trademark beef jerky and pineapple cakes, is on a mission to prove old can still be gold.

I sat down with HTY's Chief Executive Officer Mai Shen-yang (麥升陽), the tech savvy, cosmopolitan son of the company's founder, to talk future plans and the firm's upcoming 50-year anniversary.

Mai shared with me the story behind the HTY's revamped packaging, which is emblazoned with a new gold logo.

"When my father opened his first shop the letters 'Hsin Tung Yang' were written in gold on top of a red wooden sign. He was inspired by a Chinese idiom, 'gold-letter shop sign' (金字招牌, meaning a well-reputed brand). When making the new bag design, I asked the designer to keep the gold lettering to stay true to our heritage.

"It's the same as with clothing — minimalist design gives off an air of luxury. We spent nearly NT$8 million to make the new packaging, but it was worth it. Each bag held in our customers' hands is an advertisement in itself and people tend to hold on to good designs longer."

Replacing the old, red, festival-themed packaging with the new elegant design is only one part of Mai's efforts to reinvigorate the family brand.

To reposition the firm's image and give it a more youthful appeal, he recruited local actress Ariel Lin (林依晨) to lead an advertising push.

"She is a fresh-faced young woman who is modern and opinionated. Choosing her caters to our main customer demographic: middle-aged women."

HTY are also currently searching for a new face to front the company's 50-year anniversary celebrations, with Mai saying heart-throb actor Eddie Peng (彭于晏) and rock band Mayday (五月天) were among the candidates.

Mai's father sought to make the HTY brand synonymous with ethnic-Chinese communities — a vision reflected in the company's first slogan, "Where there are Chinese, there will be HTY."

The new slogan reveals the younger Mai's brimming passion and dedication to quality and taste: "HTY adds flavor to life: Tasty, tasteful, with a touch of hospitality."

From Profit Maximization to Sustainability

Speaking of the company's sustainability efforts, Mai spoke of the shock he felt watching the recently released climate-change documentary "Before the Flood."

"I want our descendants to feel thankful that we took certain actions. We shouldn't continue business as usual and stay indifferent to evidence that shows the damaging impact of our business practices.

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