Use a TOP Olympic sponsorship to grow a well-known Chinese brand outside of China.
As the #1 technology brand in its category in China, this company was challenged with growing their brand outside of the country. They had taken measures to help position themselves as a reliable and expert company that made quality solutions – including the purchase of IBMs Desktop and Notebook divisions to help boost perception and expertise.
As a TOP Sponsor for the Olympics this company was afforded an opportunity to align its brand with Olympic ideals and to reach a global audience that may not have paid attention otherwise. But because the IBM purchase included personnel from all over the globe, it became apparent there were cultural and corporate procedural differences that could hinder the momentum of their market growth initiatives.
The need: a local coordinated effort led by someone who knew and understood the global ‘IBM way’. This person needed to live and work alongside the Chinese Olympic marketing team, and attend BOCOG meetings in Beijing.
As a former global brand manager at IBM, Lea-Ann was brought on board as an outsourced marketing project manager to develop and coordinate all Olympic Torch Relay communications and outreach programs outside of China.
Working with the China team, Olympic officials, athletes, consultants and vendors – Lea-Ann coordinated the go-to-market strategy in 20+ countries, obtained buy-in from cross-functional corporate teams and Geo leads, and activated a global effort.
- Adhered to official approvals process for Olympic-themed communications and materials
- Supervised the country torchbearer competitions and nominations; identifying the torchbearer qualifications so that they met the Olympic ideals as well as TOP Sponsor ideals for their brand
- Coordinated global activation marketing with country managers and executive teams:
- Athlete campaigns
- Olympic hospitality programs
- Online/IMC/PR/internal communications
- Partner co-marketing initiatives
- Corporate marketing campaign integration
- Liaise with the country (NOC) and city officials to develop the:
- Torchbearer route
- Community engagement plan during the relay
- Developed the country-specific Torchbearer experience before, during and after their run
- Torchbearer nomination
- Olympic uniforms
- Relay Torchbearer hospitality and relationship building
- Marketing & PR
- Operational activities
- Launch ceremony
- Relay operation
- Community celebration
- Supported tactical implementation at all events
Lea-Ann was sure to take advantage of opportunities for showcasing the brand in front of the thousands around each Olympic Torch Relay (OTR) route.
The days before the global Torch Relay and the months leading up to the Games were most challenging for a marketing campaign.
Political protests and death threats often dominated and altered the activation plan — and plans changed daily. There were many times the team was able to stay focused by remembering their core objectives for each Relay:
√ Make sure each runner had a happy and memorable experience
√ Engage with community; to feel connected to the journey of the flame and the torch
√ Take advantage of every business and positive PR opportunity as possible
√ Live by the Olympic spirit and adhere to Olympic ideals!
With challenges and barriers a daily and regular occurrence, the company was able to successfully communicate and demonstrate their promise of value to customers. Product was showcased, positive PR was captured in every country, and business partners came to the party.
Due to sponsor requirements and – most importantly the need for the brand to create goodwill – the activation team engaged with the local community in each country. With the intent for the community to feel connected to the journey of the flame and to the torch itself, prior to the relay we provided tools for Olympic educational activities in schools, held competitions at venues and online, and created diverse Olympic experiences during and after the relay itself. Community engagement was a very rewarding part of being a sponsor of the Games!
Called The Journey of Harmony, the international and domestic Relay lasted 130 days (starting on March 31, 2008 and finishing in Beijing on August 8, 2008 when the 2008 Summer Olympic Games began with the Torch Lighting Ceremony. The Olympic Torch was carried through destinations all over the world and throughout many of China’s cities and regions.
Lea-Ann at Sleddogg adapted fast in the Chinese cultural environment and functioned effectively as a project manager for the Olympic International Torch Relay. She drove our Olympic marketing initiatives across more than 20 countries; coordinating team members and working towards a common goal. When there was uncertainty and ambiguity, Lea-Ann was still able to drive the team towards a clear direction and energize members not to lose focus! Her contribution was quite significant for the success of our Olympic sponsorship of the Torch Relay!