Publicis Groupe is to buy an 80% stake in Shanghai-based Betterway Marketing Solutions - the largest marketing network in China with a bluechip client list that includes Motorola, Nestlé and Gillette.

BWS' offices in 29 cities will give its new Paris-headquartered partner access to the Chinese heartland, the next battleground for Western multinationals as they move inland from wealthy coastal areas.

Publicis already maintains a strong presence in China with three key offices but Betterway will offer sales promotions, event planning and other nontraditional ad services.

When Motorola launched its new pink V3 RAZR cellphone the Chinese marketer assembled an army of promotional women in pink dresses to hand out fliers outside malls and upscale office buildings.

Comments Publicis chairman/ceo Maurice Lévy: "Given the increasing demands of global advertisers in this market . . . our decision to go forward with Betterway will solidify the Publicis network's marketing activities - allowing us to become an even stronger entity in China."

Following completion of the deal, the terms of which have not been disclosed, Betterway's joint-ceos, Jenny Zhang and York Huang will remain with the company as minority partners.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff