Going for an Olympic Marketing Gold
Kronick, Scott, Dorne, Dalton, The China Business Review
China, and foreign companies, are learning marketing lessons from their predecessors
"Welcome to Beijing," uttered a young Chinese girl at the closing ceremony of the 28th Olympiad in Athens, Greece. Her message came just before the flame was lowered in Athens and was symbolic of the spirit in which Beijing is approaching the 2008 games.
If the Athens 2004 Olympics was Greece's opportunity to show the world the wonders of Greek culture, the Beijing Olympics is set to be China's debutante ball. The global spotlight during the next four years will shine increasingly on China and its preparations for the 2008 Olympics. No one understands this better than the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXlX Olympiad (BOCOG). Hundreds of Chinese observers from a cross section of government departments-including traffic management, security, sponsorship, and venue management-were present in Athens. Each PRC official had a specific role, and many were required to file reports upon their return from Greece.
"The Beijing Olympics will not be about sport, it will be about creating a superbrand called 'China,' and the brand essence is progress," commented one marketing expert in China. One thing is certain: The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will be like none other, whether for "Brand China" or for marketers who participate.
The Olympics as a catalyst for change
When discussing the prospects for Beijing in relation to the Olympics, most observers cite what the Olympics achieved for cities such as Tokyo, Japan, and Barcelona, Spain. In 1964, at the beginning of Japan's technology revolution, observers credited the Olympics for sparking Japan's rapid consumer boom-Japanese raced out to buy TVs to watch the games. Barcelona, a sleepy provincial city in the 1980s, needed a prestige boost. The Barcelona organizing committee's campaign to make the city a star in 1992 succeeded. Event observers still remember the arrow that was shot to light the torch, the song "Barcelona," and the ceremony that celebrated the city. The Sydney 2000 games were similar, allowing :,' Sydney to share its famous Australian hospitality with the world.
And in Athens, the 2004 Olympic Games achieved a number of records: "Most athletes in history. Most women [athletes] in history. Most national teams in history. First global torch relay. Safe and secure games, blessed by a climate of celebration and ',·.'. joy," listed Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, president of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games. But Athens was also well known for barely meeting its Olympic infrastructure project deadlines.
In hindsight, the Athens Organizing Committee learned a valuable lesson about managing expectations in the lead-up to the games: The committee's failure to report infrastructure progress injured the reputation of the Athens organizers and of the city and country, to a degree. Only on the day before the games did Athens confirm for the press and the public that preparations were complete.
Clearly, BOCOG was studying Athens-and learning from its mistakes. The Athens Main Press Center opened less than one month before the 2004 games began. Beijing, however, established an Olympic News Center nearly four years before the 2008 Olympics. At the center's opening on November 1, 2004, BOCOG Vice President Jiang Xiaoyu announced in a China Daily article, "The media play an important role in the success of the Olympics...Beijing will draw on the experiences of previous games to provide high-quality services to the media."
BOCOG officials know it's not what it says, but how it says it, that matters and that it is crucial that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) support each Statement. In a number of announcements recently reported in the media, BOCOG officiais have reached out for IOC and public support by sharing both positive and negative updates on Olympic …
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Publication information: Article title: Going for an Olympic Marketing Gold. Contributors: Kronick, Scott - Author, Dorne, Dalton - Author. Magazine title: The China Business Review. Volume: 32. Issue: 1 Publication date: January/February 2005. Page number: 8+. © U.S.-China Business Council Mar/Apr 2009. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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