BIZCHINA> Editor Choice
Ambush marketing hurting sponsors
By Liu Jie (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-07-10 18:24

Ambush marketing hurting sponsors
A customer looks at Lenovo computers at a market in Shanghai. Lenovo is the only worldwide Olympic partner from China.  [Agencies]
Ambush marketing hurting sponsors


With Olympic organizers recently announcing measures to curb Olympic ambush marketing, official sponsors should be looking forward to reaping the uninterrupted spoils of their investment in the Games, and they may prove to be considerable, a latest survey report said.

According to the report, global market and research firm The Nielsen Company exclusively offered for China Daily, the majority of Chinese consumers, or 73 percent of the respondents, would be more likely to purchase or use a brand if it was an Olympic sponsor.

"The good news for official sponsors is that in spite of there being more than 60 of them battling it out, along with a host of competitor campaigns, some sponsors have been successful in cutting through the advertising clutter to establish their Olympic connection in the minds of consumers," said Richard Basil-Jones, managing director of Media Asia-Pacific of The Nielsen Company.

The company gauged the consumer perception of Olympic sponsors and competitor brand endorsement, advertising and creative strategies in an online survey, conducted between May 19 and 25. It surveyed a total of 12,549 and is a representative of the Chinese population.

When consumers were asked to identify which brands were Olympic sponsors from a list of both sponsor and non-sponsor brands, a high level of consumers chose China Mobile, Lenovo and Coca-Cola. 82 percent of those surveyed recognized that China Mobile was an official sponsor, 67 percent identified Lenovo and 63 percent pointed to Coca-Cola.

At the same time, non-sponsors have not been slow to get in on the act, incorporating sports-related themes or athletes in their advertising, designed to establish a connection between their brands and the Games.

Non-sponsor Nike - competitor to official sponsor Adidas - has taken advantage of arguably the most famous Chinese athlete, hurdler Liu Xiang, for its advertising, while Liu Xiang appears concurrently in advertising for sponsors Coca-Cola, Visa, Lenovo, Haier and Yili.

"The Nielsen survey found that non-sponsor activity is succeeding in creating some confusion in the minds of consumers, and while Yili, with 57 percent awareness, appears to be heading off non-sponsor Mengniu, at 37 percent awareness. Adidas faces a significant challenge from non-sponsor Li Ning, with identifying rates of the two at 34 percent and 29 percent respectively," said Basil-Jones.

Besides Li Ning, competitor brands receiving the most incorrect Olympic associations were China Unicom and Pepsi, with 25 percent and 18 percent awareness respectively, although levels of association were far below that of the sponsors in their respective product categories.

Worldwide Olympic partnerships are also no guarantee of consumer recognition in the Chinese market, with awareness for Visa, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's and Samsung all registering at around the quarter to one-third marks.

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