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Mon, Nov 20, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Feature: 101 new year's sponsor war is on

BANG FOR THE BUCK As the new year celebrations approach, companies local and foreign are eyeing the world's tallest freestanding building to advertise their brands

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fireworks explode on top of Taipei 101 during the countdown on New Year's Eve last year. Numerous local and foreign companies have approached Taipei Financial Center Corp this year for possible firework sponsorship to advertise their brand on the world's tallest freestanding building.

TAIPEI TIMES FILE PHOTO

On New Year's Eve last year, tens of thousands of revelers flooding the streets of Taipei Xinyi District were all excited to usher in the arrival of the new year.

When the clock ticked at 12am, the 128-second fireworks burst from the top floors of Taipei 101. People were not only enchanted by the fireworks, but also by a sentence projected on the world's tallest freestanding building.

The phrase "2006 Bravia by Sony" had caught everyone's attention, at the same time arousing curiosity among those who were not in the know.

Chao Yi-chien (趙怡茜) was with her two friends in a nearby building to witness the breathtaking moment.

The 22-year-old part-time tutor did not know the meaning of Bravia until she read news reports the following day.

Indeed, Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp managed to send its message across to potential clientele from all walks of life, and they are not limited to those in Taiwan.

The image of the world's tallest countdown was simultaneously broadcast by global media, such as the US' CNN, Japan's NHK and China Central Television.

The price reportedly paid to sponsor the fireworks was NT$20 million (US$60,661).

Taipei Financial Center Corp (TFCC, 台北金融大樓公司) operators have decided this year to push the price tag up to NT$30 million and prolong the fireworks display to 188 seconds.

"We want to break last year's record by showing a longer display of fireworks this time," TFCC assistant vice president Michael Liu (劉家豪) said.

"The firework countdown attracts international media attention and it is the biggest moment of the year for us," he said.

Already 10 companies have approached TFCC this year for possible firework sponsorship.

The list includes local and foreign big names in the computers, communications and consumer electronics industries. Even an automobile firm made contacts, he said.

Sony is definitely not missing out on the exposure this year.

Hiroyuki Oda, division president of Sony Taiwan Ltd, was all smiles last Wednesday when asked by media about the effect of last year's firework sponsorship.

"The impact was so much greater than we expected," he said.

All that the company initially wanted people to realize was that Bravia is the brandname of Sony's liquid-crystal-display (LCD) TV sets, he said.

Sony brought in its first LCD TVs to local stores in September last year, already throwing a bomb into the market with competitive pricing for the 32-inch model.

The price war caused a shortage for its TVs until October and sales shot to the No. 1 position the following month.

After the 101 sponsorship, Sony maintained its leadership in terms of sales amount for the next nine months until September this year, according to the company's latest statistics.

This translates to an impressive victory in the competitive market, as local makers such as Kolin Inc (歌林), Sampo Corp (聲寶), BenQ Corp (明基) and Tatung Co (大同) are fighting for a share with foreign big names -- Samsung Electronics Co and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, which owns the Panasonic brand.

While the company is now gearing up for this year's firework bidding, Oda said Sony is still evaluating the campaign format.

"We are looking forward to any form of partnership with 101, but we haven't reached any conclusion yet," he said.

However, some locals were wondering if foreign brands should not have given way to local players to pronounce their branding powers to the world.

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