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Firms Cash in on Olympics

Companies around the world are excited over the business opportunities offered by the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, through its Marketing Program which was officially launched in Beijing yesterday.

Multinationals and foreign-funded joint ventures are eager to use the chance to enhance their brand value in China, one of their most important markets.

At the same time, rising local firms consider this a precious platform from which to present themselves to the world.

Peter Franklin, worldwide director of Olympic management for the Coca-Cola Company, said the soft drink giant is developing a long-term plan to enhance its brand value and relationship with consumers through Olympic sponsorship.

Coca-cola is already one of the sponsors in the "Top" global sponsor project initiated by the International Olympic Committee. The project includes famous mega-names like Samsung, Kodak and Visa.

"As China is one of the most important and fastest growing markets for Coca-cola, our investment will certainly be substantial and the strength of our promotion will be increased," he said.

For companies not in the Top project, the sponsorship and partnership programs offered by the Olympic Games, which include four-year exclusive marketing rights, are also good opportunities for marketing their products on the prospering Chinese market.

Dunlop, the largest sponsor and licensee of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, expressed its interest in becoming a sponsor of the Beijing Games.

"We are experienced and we will talk cooperating details with the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Organizing Committee," said an official from the company.

Ren Jianhong, spokeswoman for Shanghai General Motors, said her company is also looking into participation in the Marketing Program although no final decision has been made.

Besides these foreign companies, Beijing's marketing plan will offer opportunities for growing local companies, said Fan Gang, a prominent Chinese economist.

Many Chinese companies are well-developed, Fan said, and they have the ability to sponsor the Olympic Games and also have plans for entering international markets.

"They cannot miss this opportunity, which offers them effective worldwide promotion," Fan said.

Reports say that many local firms such as Legend, Haier and Lining will negotiate for sponsorships, although they have not officially submitted applications yet.

(China Daily September 2, 2003)

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