BEIJING – April, 2007. With less than 500 days to go to the region’s largest ever sporting event, latest research from Beijing-based consultancy R3 and CSM suggests that ambush marketing – activities from non-Olympic sponsors – will be a significant issue.
R3 and CSM spoke to 1,595 Chinese consumers on ten cities in the latest wave of its ongoing study. And in this wave, five of the top twelve perfoming companies were not official sponsors.
“There’s still a lot of confusion in China on the brands that have paid for sponsorship” said Greg Paull, Principal of R3. “While they can mention two to three different companies each, usually one of those mentioned has no direct rights” he added.
Six companies – Mengniu, Pepsi, Li Ning, KFC, Nike and China Unicom – all grew significantly in terms of awareness and purchase intent as it relates to the Olympics in this study. Yet none of them have invested in Olympic sponsorship privileges.
Mengniu’s massive investment in ‘Around the Cities” – a multi-city skills contest broadcast nationally on CCTV, linked to its sporting approach in its communication, have muddied the waters. “While official sponsor Yili has Liu Xiang, Mengniu has the mass popularity of another hit TV show” said Mr Paull.
KFC’s new campaign “I love Beijing”, borrowing from its New York predecesor “may be the best ambush example to date” said Mr Paull. “It taps into Beijing local heroes and encourages citizens to vote for the neighbourhood that best captures the ‘spirit of 2008’ – they can’t mention the game directly, but have found a unique way to capitalize on the fervour” he added.
This month Li Ning announced a clother sponsorship deal with CCTV5 announcers for the Olympic Games. While China’s athletes will ewear offial sponsor adidas’ outfits for their awards ceremony, the commentators, who will have their own share of airtime exposure, will be in Li Ning
Despite this, several well known brands led the way in this research. Coca-Cola increased its awareness and promotional impact significantly and led all companies, with a special Olympic logo appearing on cans and bottles all over the country.
Long time global sponsor VISA also made significant progress following Coke in sporting associations for Liu Xiang and Yao Ming, both VISA celebrities now along with Jackie Chan in a new regional campaign.
China Mobile, who has invested more than RMB1b in measured media in the last six months, also performed well, using a combination of advertising, sponsorships and major ground events, with even more scheduled through 2007.
The R3 OP (Olympic Performance) Index is a proprietary methodology to track brand performance in awareness, purchase intent, promotional impact and linkage to Olympic values.
TOP FIVE BRANDS – R3 OP INDEX
2. China Mobile
TOP FIVE FASTEST MOVERS
2. China Unicom*
* - not an official sponsor
R3 is an independent marketing consultancy whose aim is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Asian marketers and their agencies. Founded in 2002, it works with six of Asia’s top twenty marketers, providing third party counsel on marketing services. For more information , visit www.rthree.com
About TNS Sport China
TNS Sport China was established in 2003, in a partnership between CSM Media Research and TNS Sport Global, tapping into the former’s eight years of China insights and the latter’s ten years of global sports research leadership. Already TNS Sport has proven case studies working with the NBA, CSL, EPL, F1 and CBA. For more information, visit www.tnssport.com
About CSM Media Research
CSM Media Research runs China’s largest ongoing media research in China, reaching 143 cities and 41,300 homes on an ongoing basis to give insights into TV and radio ratings, along with sponsorships and other intiatives. For more information, visit www.csm.com.cn