Companies that attended a dairy exporters' dinner with John Key in Beijing this week are making good use of event, using photographs of their representatives meeting the Prime Minister at the function to bolster the image of their brands on major Chinese social networking websites.
About 250 dairy exporters attended the function at Beijing's Four Seasons Hotel on Wednesday night.
The managing director of one New Zealand firm, who went to the event, said attendees were warned beforehand that photographs of Key at the function could not be used for commercial endorsement.
One infant formula and fruit juice exporter, Nekta, posted photographs of its representatives with Key and NZTE chief executive Peter Chrisp on the WeChat social network.
Nekta even went to the trouble of publishing the invitation letter for the Beijing dinner from New Zealand's Ambassador to China, Carl Worker, which clearly states in Mandarin that any photographs of Key or other Ministers should not be used for commercial endorsement.
One distributor called Le You, or "Happy Kids", posted a photograph on its official Weibo marketing account of the firm's chief operating officer, Gong Dingyu, meeting Key at the Beijing function.
Le You said on Weibo that it was the exclusive distributor in China for Greenzoo infant formula and the product was available in more than 400 outlets in 14 Chinese cities, as well as the company's website.
North Shore-based baby milk brand Gold Max posted a picture of an unnamed person with Key at the function, with a caption that says: "New Zealand Prime Minister here to promote diary trade and Gold Max is one of the companies invited at the meet and greet session."
In another Weibo posting the company said Wu Suguo, president of Gold Max China, attended the dinner with Key.
Another distributor, which doesn't reveal its name on Weibo, published a picture of well-known Chinese food blogger Li Jing - who endorses its New Zealand-made products - with Key at the event.
"We feel honoured to be invited to the dinner with the New Zealand Prime Minister. We believe New Zealand has the best dairy products in the world," Li, the writer of the Jing's Kitchen blog, was quoted as saying on Weibo.
Dairy brand Molyneux posted pictures of the function on its Weibo page and wrote about being greeted by Key at the event.
A spokeswoman for Key said none of the photographs could be considered a company endorsement.