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Chinese firms jumping on Olympic bandwagon
By Yu Yilei (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-04 00:15

The amount of support among Chinese companies for the Beijing Olympic Games has taken top marketing officials by surprise.

Sinopec is one of the partner of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. A partnership agreement was signed with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) on October 11, 2004 in Beijing. [beijing-2008.org]
"I am positively surprised by the enthusiasm they show and interests they have for the Games," said Gerhard Heiberg, chairman of International Olympic Committee (IOC) Marketing Commission.

Heiberg is in Beijing to visit new sponsors for the 2008 Games.

To date, six of China's biggest business names including Bank of China, China Mobile, Air China, China Petrochemical, China Network Communication, Volkswagen Group China, have signed the deals with Beijing Olympic organizing Committee to become partners for the 2008 Games.

Partners are the highest-level sponsors. A number of other companies are vying to make it into the list.

Heiberg, who has visited the headquarters of the six companies in the past two days, said he is pleased with the involvement of Chinese businesses.

"We see it as a great opportunity for Chinese industry and business to use the Olympic Games to promote their products, services and motivate their people internally," he said.

Most of the Chinese companies are first-time Olympic sponsors and Heiberg said he is coming here to offer as much help as possible to ensure their investments are profitable.

"They are really passionate but they do not have any experience," he said.

The efficient and proper use of the Olympic Games has always been a challenge for the sponsors.

"We are trying to plan for them, send specialists and co-operate so that they can quickly learn what the possibilities are for promotion," Heiberg said.

According to the marketing department of the Beijing committee, a club for major Olympic sponsors will be set up so that Chinese companies can learn from their foreign counterparts.

Sponsors receive more than pride

According to the marketing department of the Beijing committee, a club for major Olympic sponsors will be set up so that Chinese companies can learn from their foreign counterparts.

Heiberg, however, said he is looking for something more than financial support.

"We hope we can get partners that feel not only pride, but also say 'yes, it is worth doing and we will get the return and develop more internationally' while people working for those partners feel that this is great motivation for the future," he said.

Heiberg said he is satisfied with the marketing for the Beijing Games but also said it's time for Beijing organizers to provide real services to the sponsors.

"We are very happy with what we have seen and they are moving absolutely in the right direction. We are very confident this will be a success," he said.

"Now, the Beijing organizing committee needs to move from selling to supplying services for the sponsors," he said.

Heiberg said the search is still on for quite a lot of sponsors, but the IOC will limit entries so that the benefit to each sponsor will be secured.

"We will limit the number so that the it will not dilute the use the Olympic rings and guarantee the exclusivity of sponsors," he said. "It will be about the same quantity as the TOP (Top Olympic Partners) sponsors programme," he said.

There are 11 members in the TOP programme.

The number of partners for the Beijing Games might end up at nine or 10 and the work is expected to end this year.

The search for sponsors of the Beijing Games -- a lower-grade sponsorship -- will start next year.

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