Team building exercise, November 18:
Dongguan is apparently a somber place at the moment. We heard of worker protests, head-knocking by police, and even the ransoming of manufacturing equipment by disgruntled employees. What’s more, the pain is spreading across sectors.
One source, however, mentioned a bright spot – security equipment manufacturing. “As times get bad, crime gets worse,” said our source, whose firm just posted a record month in sales. A reminder that counter-cyclical plays do exist out there, though ferreting them out is probably much harder than it sounds.
We also heard anecdotal tales of firms closing down without notice. Rumor and hearsay for sure, so we encourage you to take all of this with a grain of salt. But, in that vein, we offer a word to the wise to those working in manufacturing: Beware of company-sponsored trips. Apparently one strategy employed by unscrupulous bosses is to send employees on a trip and disappear before they return. That’s what we call a team building exercise.
Gridiron on the ‘ground iron,’ November 4:
The American National Football League (NFL) has been hinting at a China strategy for some time now. I have, in the past, asked experts about the NFL’s prospects in the Middle Kingdom. Their answers ranged from “no chance” to “definitely no chance.” They cited a litany of reasons, from the expense of equipment to parents’ reluctance to let their kids play such a physical sport.
But it appears the NFL isn’t giving up. Standing in a Beijing subway at the tail end of rush hour, I was surprised to see highlights from last week’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles broadcast on the small flat-panel televisions inside the car. At the end of the highlight reel, the NFL China logo appeared briefly on the screen. Branding at work.
It’s going to take more than subway advertisements to introduce this sport to China. The NFL is a much harder sell than that other US sports import taking China by storm, the NBA. But they’re making an effort, and it would be foolish not to, given their wealth and China’s massive population. Even a limited success can make it worth the effort. Nonetheless I’m not holding my breath for football, American style, to sweep the nation.