German Automaker And Chinese JV Partner Hold Event At Century Hall of China Millennium Monument
Held in collaboration with China’s National Academy of Arts, this month the German automaker BMW and its Chinese JV Partner, Brilliance Auto, are showing their cultural side with the fifth annual “China Culture Journey” event at Beijing’s World Art Museum. First launched in 2007 to promote the protection of Chinese cultural relics, “BMW China Culture Journey” has evolved into one of the more important corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives supported by a major foreign brand in China. In this year’s event, running through December 15, items on display include lacquerware from the city of Pingyao in Shanxi province, clay figurines from Huishan in Jiangsu province, Tibetan thangka art and ceramic sculptures from Dehua in Fujian province. Additionally, BMW-Brilliance has invited two traditional craftsmen — Zhang Juntao and Zhang Junli — to demonstrate their traditional Kaifeng lantern-making skills, and has created new interactive exhibitions that give visitors a chance to try their hand at making traditional Spring Festival woodprints and small wooden arch bridges.
The displays are part of the more than 120 tangible and intangible cultural heritage items that the BMW Culture Journey has explored in the past five years.
The caravans have journeyed to the ancient Silk Road in the northwest, the Grand Canal in the east, Gansu and Sichuan provinces in the west and Fujian and Guangdong provinces in the south, as well as the central provinces Shanxi, Henan and Hubei.
The exhibition is creatively integrated with the “five elements” in traditional Chinese culture – fire, wood, metal, water and earth – to represent the characteristics and significance of the routes each year.
The combined length of the journeys now total 12,000 km. The company donated more than 5 million yuan to 43 cultural heritage protection programs during the period.
“When we started in 2007, we wanted to initiate a journey to explore the old civilizations and to raise awareness of the endangered intangible heritage often forgotten in our modern lives,” said Olaf Kastner, president and CEO of BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd, the German carmaker’s joint venture with its Chinese partner.
“As a company that aims to build strong roots here in China, we have been eager to learn more about the Chinese culture and contribute to the society.”
In addition to the items on show, China Culture Journey also features an installation made by Pan Gongkai out of 10,000 books, all of which will be donated to children in underdeveloped regions at the close of the exhibition by the BMW Warm-Heart Fund.
More than being good PR, visible corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives like China Culture Journey are becoming a must for major luxury brands operating in China. As last year’s China Luxury Forecast 2010 study by Albatross Global Solutions and Ruder Finn Asia pointed out, CSR is perhaps the best form of advertising for brands looking to stand out in the increasingly crowded China luxury market. In a survey of 1,100 luxury consumers in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, CSR was found to be especially important to wealthier, more educated consumers, 2/3 of whom said a given luxury brand’s CSR would make an impact on their choice to purchase its goods.