Lenovo still Chinese — in Australia, at least

By Patrick Avenell

SINGAPORE: Chinese technology company Lenovo has confirmed it is proud of its heritage after the New York Times reported that the company is set to distance itself from its homeland in its upcoming advertising drive. Despite this confirmation, the company continues to push itself as “a global company” when attempting to attract retailers and consumers.

Worried that consumers would be wary of buying computer products from a company owned largely by China’s communist government, Lenovo vice president (brand management) Glen Gilbert was quoted in the Times saying, “in the [United States], we will not be making direct mention of that [Lenovo’s Chinese heritage].”

Speaking about Lenovo’s advertising strategy in Australia, Lenovo communications director (Asia Pacific), Geraldine Kan said, “Lenovo is a global company that is proud of its Chinese origins.”

The word ‘global’ is key here. The pride that Lenovo claims for its heritage is countered by this omnipresent adjective used whenever a representative talks publicly. The evidence of this global presence is in their offices in Beijing, Paris and Singapore. Additionally, and tellingly, their Chinese chairman has relocated one half of the executive office to North Carolina, a move designed to improve the company’s standing in the American market.

Lenovo’s image suffered heavily after their brand was tarnished by its sponsorship of the Olympic Torch. Previously a symbol of unity, the torch became a lightning rod of controversy and choral as protestors throughout the developed world hijacked the relay to promulgate a variety of political messages.

For the United States market, this has proved to be too much bad publicity, with the company now openly saying they will not refer to the company’s Chinese roots in its American advertising. The full Lenovo statement, which is reprinted below, confirms that, for the Australian market, being Chinese is still a marketable commodity.

“Lenovo sees itself as a global company as shown through its commitment to worldsourcing. We have no single headquarters. Instead, we have HQ functions in Raleigh (US), Beijing, Paris, and Singapore. With R&D facilities in the US, Japan and China; a decentralised management team located in the US, Asia and Europe; and our American CEO is based out of Singapore and our Chinese Chairman in Raleigh, Lenovo is a truly global company that is proud of its Chinese origins. As a global company, we are very proud to be a major sponsor of the Beijing Olympic Games in August – an international event aimed at increasing collaboration and understanding between cultures." (Lenovo communications director (Asia Pacific), Geraldine Kan)

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