corporate diplomacy

New Zealand's national airline unveiled a giant image Monday of the dragon Smaug on one of its planes to celebrate the premiere of the second movie in the Hobbit trilogy. Air New Zealand showed the 54-meter (177-foot) image that's featured on both sides of a Boeing 777-300 aircraft. The plane is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles in time for the premiere of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," which screens Monday, Pacific Standard Time at the Dolby Theatre.

The New England Patriots' cheerleaders spent two weeks in Beijing recently, leading pep rallies and cheer clinics. Former San Francisco 49ers superstar quarterback Joe Montana toured the Great Wall of China in between visits to local flag football games. They're both examples of an outreach effort by NFL China, the NFL organization tasked with recruiting NFL fans and introducing the game of American football to China's young atheletes.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry has entered the “kill everyone in China” row instigated by a late-night network television skit in the U.S. last month – asking for a more “sincere” apology than those already issued by ABC and show host Jimmy Kimmel. The controversial remark, made by a 6-year-old boy during an unscripted segment meant to satirize the U.S. government shutdown, has sparked protests from the Chinese-American community and calls for the comedian’s resignation.

Campaigners supporting the environmental group Greenpeace have briefly disrupted a Champions League match in Switzerland in a protest against the Russian energy giant Gazprom, a sponsor of the game. Four activists on October 1 abseiled from the roof of the stadium to the field in Basel and unfurled a banner that read: “Gazprom. Don’t Foul The Arctic.”

If Tolstoy had written a history of foreign corporations in China, it might have started something like this: “Companies that succeed in China do so for similar reasons; every company that fails, fails in its own way.” It’s not because the businesses were incompetent. Many of the biggest failures belong to the Fortune 500: Mattel, eBay, Google, Home Depot. All of these have thrived in markets around the world, but not in China. Why?

September 13, 2013

The business world is awash with talk of soft power. It is, say gurus and thinkers, the key to durable success and it's largely thanks to women that the trend has risen to prominence. But what is it? Well, simply put, soft power is the application of emotional intelligence.

September 8, 2013

It's a June night in Kinshasa, and rapper JB Mpiana's weekly VIP bash is just starting to heat up. Toned groupies splash like mermaids in a sunken pool. Middle-aged businessmen perch on the ledge above to watch. A minute before midnight, JB runs onstage among a huge posse of gyrating dancers in sunglasses. He rips into some of his biggest hits; a bombastic performer, he glides across the stage with a beefy grace, dressed in a hunter-orange jumpsuit and matching cap.

Will the mermaid rescue Juan Valdez? Or will she send the mythical Colombian coffee farmer and his faithful donkey over an Andean mountain cliff? That’s the question Colombians are debating following the Aug. 26 announcement that Seattle-based Starbucks plans to bring its famous green sea nymph logo to Colombia by opening 50 coffee houses over the next five years.

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