The Washington Post reports that hours after he landed, Tai Shan, the panda who grew up at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and returned to China on Friday, had acquired a corporate sponsor: Sichuan Auto Industry Group.
Remarkably the reporter states: "It's unclear what Sichuan Auto gets out of it."
Are you kidding me? How about world domination!
Who doesn't love a Panda? And for a country with a growing business sector but no internationally-known brands, association with a globally-recognized and beloved animal that is associated with China and a symbol of 40 years of U.S.-China relations is a pretty smart investment.
Having recently traveled to China I can tell you that China takes its national symbols very seriously – like most cultures do. For a national brand to align itself with one of its nation's symbols on an international scale is a tremendous opportunity.
Don't believe me? Check out this video of Tai Shan's departure. Pay particular attention to how FedEx gets mileage (pun intended) out of its panda-transportation role. Makes you want to give that airplane a hug, doesn't it?