State Grid Corp of China, official partner of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the world's largest public utility, has worked out a new Olympics marketing plan that focuses on corporate social responsibility.
"Olympics social responsibility" is expected to be a third milestone in the Games after the "Olympics economy" was put forward at the 1984 Games in Los Angles and the concept of "State public relations" was formulated for the 2004 Athens Games.
State Grid's marketing for the Games has been lauded by both Chinese and international Olympics authorities.
"It has taken the lead in the corporate social responsibility field. Olympics social responsibility has set an example for sponsors of the future," said an official of the International Olympic Organizing Committee.
"Olympics social responsibility is a perfect addition to the themes of the up-coming Games - hi-tech, green and the people's Olympics," said Li Binghua, executive vice-president of the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee.
As the Beijing Olympic Games draw near and Chinese athletes are expected to win more gold medals, another competition - Olympics marketing - is heating up.
Study and research
State Grid, which provides electricity to more than 1 billion people across 88 percent of China, has become the first public utility to be a sponsor of the Olympic Games.
The company sees Olympics marketing as a field to test the strengths of society, enterprises and the government.
"As a sponsor, the enterprise studied the approach not only from the angle of economics and marketing but also integrating a marketing strategy into overall economic development and State revitalization," said Yao Lixin, vice-head of State Grid's Olympics office.
To find a new way to build the State-owned enterprise's brand through Olympics marketing, the group studied sponsors of previous Games and promoted exchanges with Chinese and foreign marketing experts, Yao said.
During the research, the topic most frequently talked about was the integration of State Grid goals and the Olympics spirit.
That spirit reflects the common beliefs of mankind - in which an enterprise can find values consonant with the spirit of its brand, Yao said.
The group officially signed an agreement with the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee on January 26, 2006 to become the power supplier and sponsor of the Games - the first public utility to do so.
Because it is both a State-owned enterprise and the world's largest public utility, "our brand building is different from others", Yao said. "On the one hand, the marketing strategy stresses the brand. On the other hand, we must have the high standards of the State."
First CSR report
Shouldering social responsibility in a comprehensive and multi-dimensional way is among State Grid's tasks.
The company was the first State-owned enterprise to issue a corporate social responsibility report in 2006, the first enterprise owned by the central government to establish a complete management system for social responsibility.
The State Grid is also the first enterprise to become an observer of the social responsibility international standard ISO26000 of the International Standardization Organization (ISO).
The group maintained and restored the power network in the disastrous south China snowstorm this winter, helping local people and enterprises resume normal life and production in a short time.
The group was awarded the title of Advanced Disaster Relief Unit by the Chinese government.
In 2007, State Grid won the Leading Enterprise for Corporate Social Responsibility title and topped the 2008 Hurun list for social responsibility in China's 50 largest enterprises.
"The company met its Olympics social responsibilities by upgrading its services for customers and the Games themselves," said Cao Zhi'an, State Grid vice-president.
The corp official also highlighted a range of energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies the electricity giant employed in building facilities for the Olympic Games.
"Through a series of Olympic marketing strategies, we have improved the company's brand value which in turn boosts State Grid's development," Yao said.
According to the latest list of the Chinese mainland's 500 most valuable brands, State Grid ranks second with a brand value of 111.642 billion yuan.
According to experts estimate, the Olympics marketing has already increased the enterprise's brand value by about 18 percent.
Source: China Daily