Sport Sponsorship in China: Transition and Evolution

Lizhong Geng
Rick Burton
Connie Blakemore

This study conducted a gap analysis (a study of differences between two groups) to compare major sport organizations with most of the commercial corporations for sponsorship applications in China. The study was undertaken with the possibility that Beijing would host the 2008 Olympic Games and that sport marketing and sport sponsorship would therefore increase in visibility in China over the next 7 years. The study yielded three major findings. First, the problems that emerged in sport marketing in China were identified as strategic issues. Second, a formidable philosophical gap separates the sport centered and the marketing centered mindsets of the entities involved and threatens the success of sport sponsorship programs in China. Third, while Chinese sport is moving from an Olympic-events orientation to a cooperative position combining sport and marketing, the transition is a slow one. To help overcome the barriers that currently prevent successful sport sponsorship programs in China, this work observes specific and distinct relationships between sponsors and sport properties. A step-by-step management and marketing approach is recommended as well.