China, the Olympic Branding ‘Dragon'
China, the Olympic Branding ‘Dragon'
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  • 승인 2006.09.01 12:01
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With the looming approach of the 2008 Beijing Olympics just two years away, one of the challenges faced by Korea, particularly in the information communication technology and electronics industries, is the branding threat posed by China. Chinese companies such as China Mobile and Lenovo are targeting global recognition in a big way. Shelly Lazarus, CEO of global advertising firm Ogilvie and Mather said in a 2004 interview with Business Week magazine that China will succeed in global branding of their products much faster than Japan and Korea managed to do over the past few decades. She pointed out: "They understand what they're trying to do. They're committed to brand-building. And they're smarter and more pragmatic when it comes to brand-building. Indian consumers already have a preference for Chinese brands over Korean brands." Although Korean brands like Samsung, LG, and KIA are steadily becoming more familiar to global consumers, there is no doubt that China will race ahead if Korean companies do not take strong measures to secure their market share acquired through years of rigorous marketing and branding efforts and investments. The 2008 Beijing Olympics will certainly be maximized by China as an extraordinary international image and branding opportunity, underscoring China's arrival on the global scene as a major economic power. And perhaps more important for Chinese companies it is shaping up to be the marketing opportunity of the decade. The prize that they're chasing is the kind of brand recognition that companies like Samsung, Coca Cola and Adidas achieved through their huge sponsorships and brand awareness campaigns at recent Olympic Games. Not surprisingly, the Chinese computer maker Lenovo is thinking big a full two years before the torch is lit. Lenovo last month began its Olympic marketing blitz, launching a new line of desktop computers, called KaiTian, aimed initially at Olympic organizers and business executives. A Lenovo advertising campaign will soon be launched in 200 countries, and the company is conducting an "Olympic & Lenovo Thousand County Tour" across China to publicize its Olympic connection. "The brand will be a flag that leads the company as it goes forward," Lenovo Chairman Yang Yuanqing recently told Business Week. Lenovo is the most prominent example of China's emerging brand power right now, but it is far from being the only one. Air China, China Mobile, telecom equipment maker ZTE, and dozens of other companies are leaping forward as China's growing number of powerful brands. They hope to emerge as truly global players--dominant at home and strong enough to raise consumer awareness abroad. However, the reality is that Korean and other foreign brands still have a strong pull on Chinese consumers. And China remains heavily dependent on foreign technology, with Nokia, Motorola and Samsung being very popular with Chinese mobile phone users. Meanwhile, Korea's Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest maker of memory chips and flatpanel displays, suffers from a slump because of its own cornerstone asset, the premium brand image. As prices of high-tech consumer products such as cell phones or laptop computers continue to head south, Samsung feels the sense of urgency to hitch onto the trend. Samsung possibly feels pressure to lower its prices, but such a move might undermine its brand image of making feature-rich, high-end items. Clearly there will have to be some big changes in the brand imaging strategies of Korean companies in view of the rapidly changing global market, and with the meteoric rise of China riding on the back of the Olympic dragon.

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