Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

The real winners in Guangzhou: Brand China [Straits Times]


China’s charm offensive reaches new heights – a display of internal power with the Asian Games functioning as a global ‘name card of China’ for Asia.

Brand China had a virtual monopoly of the event’s sponsorship, giving the world a clear view of its growing economic prowess… Domestic companies made up 88 per cent of the Games’ sponsors and suppliers, even higher than the 59 per cent they achieved at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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The real winners in Guangzhou: Brand China
By Peh Shing Huei, China Bureau Chief
Source – Straits Times, published November 28, 2010

Beijing – China’s dominance at the Guangzhou Asian Games has been overwhelming, and not just in its haul of gold medals. While its athletes have been breaking records in the field, the country’s commercial brands have been wiping the floor with their advertisements and endorsements.

Brand China had a virtual monopoly of the event’s sponsorship, giving the world a clear view of its growing economic prowess.

Domestic companies made up 88 per cent of the Games’ sponsors and suppliers, even higher than the 59 per cent they achieved at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Apart from the likes of McDonald’s, Samsung and Philips, international brands were almost completely wiped out of the Asian Games. In their places were Chinese household brands – though little known overseas – such as Wong Lo Kat herbal drink, 361 Degrees sports apparel and TCL electronics manufacturer.

Together, they put up big money in terms of sponsorship dollars, helping the Games to draw more than 3 billion yuan (S$585 million) – five times more than the 2006 Doha Asian Games.

Local reports said that the 600million yuan shelled out by the Guangzhou Automotive Group alone was more than Doha’s total sponsorship.

Observers attribute the rising dominance of Chinese sponsors over global brands at the Guangzhou Games – as compared to the Beijing Olympics – to several factors.

For one thing, the narrower focus of the ongoing Games has made it less appealing to international companies such as the likes of Coca-Cola and Visa, which gave it a miss.

‘Entry fees’ for sponsorship at the Asian Games were also slightly lower than those of the Beijing Olympics – 10 million yuan at the lowest tier, or about 6 million yuan less than at the Olympics.

‘The barriers of entry for the Olympics are too high for some Chinese brands,’ said analyst Jin Shan from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. ‘The Asian Games is more affordable.’

Still, the dominance of local firms at the Asian Games clearly marks the rising strength of Chinese companies. The last time China hosted the Asian Games in 1990 in Beijing, it had just two sponsors.

‘In recent years, domestic firms have deeper pockets and growing maturity with branding. They view sporting events as a good vehicle for their marketing,’ said consumer analyst Zhao Hong.

While many of the Chinese brands had taken up sponsorship in a bid to increase their market share within China, several were gunning for the larger Asian market, as part of the country’s ‘going out’ strategy.

One of them was Wong Lo Kat herbal drink. Mr Yang Aixing, general marketing manager of JDB Group, which owns the drink, said: ‘We believe that Wong Lo Kat… will definitely enter the global market and become a truly international brand with the Asian Games, becoming a ‘name card of China’ in Asia and even the whole world.’

TCL was also banking on the Games to venture overseas. ‘Asian countries are our key markets when we expand abroad,’ said TCL Corporation chairman Li Dongsheng. ‘The Asian Games is an opportunity to increase our influence and support our business partners.’

shpeh@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Lina Miao

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Filed under: Asian Games 2010 - Guangzhou, Asian Games Guangzhou 2010, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Communications, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Greater China, Influence, International Relations, Lifestyle, Media, Nationalism, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Social, Soft Power, Sport, Straits Times

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