The Olympics Kick Off in Beijing

But the Race To Win Chinese Consumers Began Years Ago -- And Is Going Strong

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Coke celebrates with Chinese during the torch relay
Coke celebrates with Chinese during the torch relay

BEIJING ( -- The opening ceremony for the 2008 Olympic Games starts in two days. But for marketers, the race began two years ago and is entering the final, frenetic burst of promotions.

This year's Summer Games in Beijing are the most commercialized in the history of the games. And for sponsors, the most eagerly-awaited. Have they lived up to the hype? Was it worth the money?

For many sponsors, the answer is yes. Companies like Coca-Cola Co., the Chinese dairy Yili Group, PC-maker Lenovo Group, China Mobile and Adidas have received high marks from researchers evaluating their brand performance.

Campaigns by sponsors -- as well as non-sponsors like Puma, PepsiCo and Nike -- have connected their brands with tens of millions of Chinese consumers.

A new promotion by McDonald's Corp., Coca-Cola Co. and Adidas, for instance, will deliver millions of prizes to Chinese, as well as live coverage of the events in a group setting. Lenovo is using the games to introduce its brand to the world. Millions of Chinese learned about credit cards for the first time in Visa ads featuring track-and-field star Liu Xiang.

Beijing's National Stadium, the Bird's Nest
Beijing's National Stadium, the Bird's Nest
General Electric helped Beijing residents breathe a little easier by installing wind turbines and water recycling plants. Adidas and rival Nike inspired thousands of young Chinese to try out for basketball tournaments. Examples of how the Olympics have already changed China and its people are endless.

Over the past three years, AdAgeChina has chronicled efforts by marketers in their own quest for Olympic gold. Starting Aug. 6, the newsletter will have a new format to provide more timely reporting about one of the world's biggest and most important markets.

Also, we have brought together some of China's leading experts as well as top marketers from sponsor companies. They will share their views and experiences on Ad Age's China Olympics 2008 blog.

In daily updates, the blog will chronicle what's happening inside and outside the Olympic venues -- the marketing events, the parties, the buzz and the challenges facing sponsors and visitors during this once-in-a-lifetime event.
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