Profitable profiles

Published: Friday 15 April 1994

-- MULTINATIONALS are having a field day on Chinese television. Ever since Robert Wang, a Chinese-American entrepreneur, persuaded the state-run China Central Television to air company profiles on its Economic Half Hour, the floodgates have opened for "infomercials". The 10-minute shows -- filmed and financed by Philip Morris Co and six other companies -- are beamed to almost a quarter billion Chinese, not as advertisements but as corporate profiles.

The profiles are neither advertisements nor documentaries. They implicitly get their message across since they feature people discussing the products that their companies hope to sell in China. Other profiles are those of General Motors, PepsiCo, Goodyear, Wal-Mart Stores, American Telephone & Telegraph and Walt Disney. Besides, 22 other companies are filming their own profiles.

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