When China Netcom (CNC) signed a contract with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) and became a cooperative partner in 2004, it did not realize that the 2008 Beijing Olympics would in effect be its farewell stage. CNC will no longer be used as a brand after New China Unicom comes into effect.
Over the past 4 years, CNC has made a significant investment in its Olympic brand promotion. As a cooperative partner, its investment covers several areas: sponsorship of the Olympics as a partner – the amount of which was decided by CNC and BOCOG – installation of communication facilities in the Olympic stadiums, provision of exclusive communication services during the Games, and activities relating to promotion and advertising investment.
CNC seems to have made more investment in the Olympics than other cooperating partners. The Chief Director of the CNC Olympics General Procurement Office Zhao Jidong announced publicly that CNC had invested 1.47 billion yuan in fixed communication network construction, and developed 26 products for Olympic communication services.
The Beijing 2008 Olympics sponsorship plan provides Olympic partners with a series of product promotion facilities that will last 5 years.
In July 2005, CNC formally launched its overall Olympic brand promotion strategy, and developed three series of Olympics products: excellent service, convenient information, and value upgrading. It produced a number of initiatives such as CNC broadband Olympics in communities, broadband Olympics in towns and villages, broadband Olympics in schools, and broadband Olympics in cities. It is estimated that CNC has made a total investment of not less than 2 billion yuan in its Olympic broadband promotion strategy.
Outdoor advertisements for CNC's Olympic image could be seen almost everywhere in the country, and its advertisement preview was in peak time on CCTV.
In 2004 CNC top management made two critical strategic proposals: one was to become an Olympic partner; while the other was a report to government detailing the disorganized state of the telecommunication industry resulting in significant capital losses to the State, and advocating reform.
These two decisions actually changed the fate of CNC. On July 22, 2004, CNC signed its contract with BOCOG, totally unaware that CNC itself was to be annexed.
The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council has finally decided to retain the China Unicom brand following the amalgamation of China Unicom and CNC, since the former symbolizes China's reform and the breaking of monopoly in the telecommunication sector.
A CNC employee said:"In recent years CNC has made a significant and successful attempt to build a reputation in the international market, and suddenly the brand is no more."
(China.org.cn by Hou Xiaoying, August 18, 2008)