The Beijing Olympics last year were supposed to mark a turning point in the sports marketing business in China, with the introduction of big, U.S.-style sponsorships, rich television contracts and the widespread use of sports as a marketing tool. But eight months on, things haven’t panned out quite as marketers had hoped. Sure, there are some Coke commercials on TV featuring Chinese athletes, but much of the buzz has faded in the past eight months. The economic downturn has hurt, but the Chinese people have also not embraced pro sports as quickly as many had expected. Even the famous Bird’s Nest stadium now risks becoming a white elephant. Sports as big business in China will catch on, say marketers, it just might take a few years.
China’s sporting future
The Chinese have not embraced pro sports as quickly as many expected after the Olympics