Topless models exposing their charms to convey a message ... hardly a novel advertising strategy but one SmarTone-Vodafone embraced last week in the name of 3G. It's a jungle out there in the cut-throat battle for new subscribers and the mobile operator wheeled out the professionals - male and female, of course, to deflect claims of sexism - as it unveiled its latest handset. '3G sheds its skin' was the line pushed by the six models standing half-naked in a glass showcase as they showed off the Sharp SX 313 mobile phone. Chief executive Douglas Li was fully dressed but had shed his conservative pin-striped suit and tie to meet the press at last Friday's launch looking sharp all in black. 'We hope the new campaign delivers the message that 3G phones are no longer bulky and are just as user friendly as a 2G phone,' Mr Li said. Since partnering with the British-based Vodafone Group, SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings has realigned it sights on the high-end sector of the market. 'We also changed our advertising agency to JWT earlier this year, the global advertising agency of Vodafone, to unify our brand proposition with Vodafone,' executive director Patrick Chan said. 'Our campaign focuses on service quality, rather than just the price war,' Mr Chan said. But skin is not all that is being shed. Despite heavy promotion during the past several months, the company's subscribers are also falling away, with only a million in June this year - a drop of 50,000 customers compared with the number at the end of last year. lightning strikes twice Sing Tao News Corp is all smiles after the recent launch of its free newspapers. The Headline Daily, which hit the streets two months ago, is now joined by a weekend version, the Express Post, which is distributed at MTR station exits. Saturday's first issue of Express Post looked just like its big sister. The pair even share a similar masthead - a lightning flash. 'This is our strategy, to make the two papers look the same,' said a source close to Sing Tao. Headline Daily now claims a daily circulation of 500,000 copies and about 300,000 copies of Express Post were given away last week. 'The progress of Headline Daily is much better than our expectation,' the source said. 'We need to boost the circulation, rather than watch the bottom line,' he said, adding that the advertising-editorial ratio had yet to reach 50 per cent. taking the mickey Media Eye trekked out to Disneyland to see what all the fuss was about after media criticism that the resort was badly organised for its grand opening. Admittedly, my girlfriend and I visited midweek but all was seamless - no fuss, no queues, no delays. As for jibes that the star of the show, Mickey Mouse, welcomes visitors in English ... somehow 'ni hao ma', rather than 'hello, everybody', does not sound right coming from the world's most lovable rodent. li banks on news Richard Li Tzar-kai's PCCW Now Broadband TV is placing a big bet on its new 24-hour financial news channel due to be launched around the Lunar New Year holiday next year. It has moved its newsroom and studio to Telecom House in Wan Chai and has lined up veteran journalist Cheung Chi-kong, formerly of Television Broadcasts News, as news controller. Loh Chan, PCCW's executive vice-president for news and business information, will be in charge of all news programmes under Now. A source said PCCW did not rule out producing its own round-the-clock news channel. 'We have a flexibility to extend our programme to local news, as we have over 100 journalists,' a source close to PCCW said. He stressed that the channel was the 'main dish' for PCCW in the near future. What is the next step for PCCW? Maybe breaking i-Cable Communications' monopoly in the local pay-television market.