Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Huawei's PR fail in Europe

Huawei Logo
China's IT giant has organized itself a PR-mess in Europe by mentioning a large number of companies among its success stories, while those companies were not even familiar with Huawei's name.

The Dutch daily The Volkskrant (article here in Dutch) made a tour along the press departments of the companies.

Huawei seemed to have embarked in a successful PR campaign to position itself both in Europe and the US, (like I mentioned earlier here), and expanded its Europe headquarters in Amsterdam.

Compared to four, five years ago, Huawei seemed to be much more sophisticated in trying to enter the markets, who are still suspicious about the company's government affiliations and the (more than three decades old) short military career of its founder.

That PR campaign might have a bit of a setback now. Europe's Huawei director Li Liang Liang mentioned according the De Volkskrant Alstom, Areva, TGV, SNCF, PSA Peugeot Citroën, HTM, HSBC, AGF and Brussels Airport as success stories. Spokespersons of HSBC, PSA en Areva say they have no commercial ties with Huawei. The insurance company AGF ceased to exist two years ago and its successor is not aware of any contacts with Huawei. TGV and SNCF are in fact one company. Brussel Airport says that their supplier Siemens sometimes uses Huawei equipment, but they do feel that does not qualify as a success story. Huawei confirms that not all companies know the company, since they use Huawei products through third parties.

Afterthought: It looks like a perfect clash of cultures, not unlike the mess Huawei got itself in four, five years ago. Of course, when you claim success stories, it makes sense when there are some facts to support it. But in China, you would take these claims anyway with a bucket of salt. You really to not expect them to be 100 percent true. But not so in The Netherlands, where something like being flexible with the truth is a huge nono.  

Update: I tried to find out which PR firm was retained by Huawei - if any -, to see how this mishap could occur. I could not find any link to a PR firm, while they obvious could need some help. Let me know if you know who might be involved.
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