Marketeers try to go distance with Olympic games

Coca-Cola's China Beat advertisements in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. The promotional campaign aims to enhance the company's profile in light of the upcoming London Olympics.

Major players' efforts in China may not be as effective as during 2008 Olympics

As the 2012 London Olympic Games draws near, the marketing campaigns of 11 large multinational corporations that have been designated as Worldwide Partners are gaining steam in London, in other parts of the United Kingdom, and in China.

To attract Chinese shoppers' attention, the companies are making full use of the rights granted them by the International Olympic Committee and are hoping to improve their corporate images and gain bigger market shares in the world's largest emerging market.

Will their efforts have the intended effects? Analysts forecast their influence might be moderate but still helpful to their businesses in China in the long run.

Long-term interest

There are 11 multinational corporations that have been deemed Worldwide Partners for the 2012 London Olympics, compared to 12 that were approved for the 2008 Beijing Games. Dow Chemical Co, Procter & Gamble Co and Taiwan's Acer Inc are the newcomers to the list this year. The other eight, including The Coca-Cola Co, Visa Inc and Samsung Group, participated in the past round.

The Olympic Partners program, or TOP program, was established in 1985. It is managed by the International Olympic Committee and is the only organization that can grant world-marketing rights for both the winter and summer Games.

In May, Dow said it will try to form a partnership in China to help promote the Olympic spirit and the National Fitness Program, and use its materials and knowledge to build sports venues and infrastructure.

According to Peter Sykes, president of Dow Greater China, the US-based company has just reached an agreement with the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games to provide coating materials for that event's Olympic Village.

According to China's Sports Industry Roadmap of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), the country will continue to promote its National Fitness Program and add to the number of sports venues in the country, taking it from 1 million to 1.2 million by 2015.

"Our partnership with the Olympics will help us grasp business opportunities at the 200,000 new venues in China," Sykes said earlier.

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