Matchmaking Hollywood's fans

Updated: 2014-01-01 16:12

By Kelly Chung Dawson in New York (China Daily USA)

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 Matchmaking Hollywood's fans

Adam Roseman and his Shanghai-based FansTang aim to help American celebrities to reach the Chinese partners. Provided to China Daily

Hollywood studios and stars are increasingly aware of the potential for profit in China, but are often at a loss for how to reach Chinese fans. Adam Roseman, CEO of the Shanghai-based FansTang - which translates to "hall of fans" - believes that a data-driven approach can give American talent a leg up in an unfamiliar market.

Launched in 2012, FansTang relies on Internet-aggregated data to link American celebrities with the specific demographics in which they will reach the most fans. Among the company's specialties are brokering endorsement deals between Western stars and Chinese brands, planning PR trips and events for Hollywood names, and the recent introduction of a five-minute Hollywood-focused daily segment produced for Shanghai's primary satellite TV network, Dragon TV.

The appetite for Hollywood products has grown rapidly in recent years as the Internet has provided easy access for consumption, but no effective medium previously existed for Chinese fans to connect with their Hollywood idols, Roseman said.

"There was no People Magazine and no Twitter with a common language, so they couldn't get to know their favorite stars," Roseman told China Daily. "On the other hand, Hollywood stars have demonstrated a clear interest in China. Our goal is to obtain data, whether it's for them in negotiating film deals or concert promotions, or linking them with the right ad agency. Given the extreme importance of China across all these groups, being able to help build relationships with the fans and to activate marketing campaigns is very valuable."

While FansTang works with a roster that includes numerous A-list names, the company is most focused on the ones that are specifically popular in China, he said. For example, Avril Lavigne, whose popularity has waned in the US in recent years, is currently the most popular Western rock star in China, Roseman said. Through FansTang Lavigne has negotiated three commercial deals in China within the last year, including a high-profile spokeswoman role for Uni Ice Tea.

On a smaller scale, FansTang also arranges for low-level transaction deals with celebrities who are willing to film short one-minute segments for video advertisements online or elsewhere.

"We are a data-driven business, and we keep on top of online views, TV and music downloads and other trends every day," Roseman said. "We have a better sense than anyone at any given point in time what's popular and relevant in this market, and it doesn't always correlate with what's already popular in the US."

FansTang manages Chinese social media accounts for around 150 US celebrities, on platforms including Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, RenRen, WeChat, Youku and Sohu. Robert Downey Jr's Weibo account is followed by 3.5 million users, thanks to FansTang.

"The key to monetizing China is to understand local Chinese consumers and provide them with what they want while creating competitive barriers in an area that local Chinese entrepreneurs cannot easily replicate on their own," Roseman told the South China Morning Post. "We are seeing success in doing this because we are bridging the gap between China and Hollywood, not only for fans, but for celebrities as well."

The company is in a better position to serve Western stars because of its unique combination of a Western perspective and sensibility combined with a focus on data and Roseman's own extensive experience working in China, he said.

"Chinese business culture and the culture of Hollywood are two very distinctive, strong cultures," he said. "To be able to cross that bridge, you have to have both patience and experience."

FansTang's position as a "first-mover" in the industry has given it a major advantage, he said. Now employing 75 (with 25 in Los Angeles and 50 in China), the company expects to continue its steady growth, he said.

FansTang will be announcing a second television show in the coming weeks, Roseman said.

"I'm pleased with where we are today, but we still have a long way to go," he said. "The market is moving in the right direction and we have the wind at our backs, so it's up to us to keep pushing to see what's possible in China."

(China Daily USA 01/01/2014 page2)