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«AMBUSH MARKETING: A CHINESE PERSPECTIVE 1 Ambush Marketing: A Chinese Perspective Yuqi Liu A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate and ...»

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Running head: AMBUSH MARKETING: A CHINESE PERSPECTIVE 1

Ambush Marketing: A Chinese Perspective

Yuqi Liu

A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

in partial of fulfillment of the requirements for the

MASTER OF ARTS

in Human Kinetics

Program of Human Kinetics

Faculty of Health Science

University of Ottawa

November, 2013

©Yuqi Liu, Ottawa, Canada, 2013

AMBUSH MARKETING: A CHINESE PERSPECTIVE 2

Abstract As one of the top topics in both scholarly and practical fields of sport sponsorship, ambush marketing research usually focuses on protection of the sports sponsor’s rights and prevention strategies. According to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) (2008) marketing report, the Chinese government did a great job in preventing ambush marketing. Since five years passed, whether China can maintain a high-performing sponsor protection record after the Olympics should be evaluated.

In response to the question, the investigator conducted a qualitative study involving 11 semi-structured interviews of subject-matter experts and a material/archive content analysis. The interviewees chosen were experts from various types of organizations including: (1) government, (2) sports organizations, (3) companies involved in sports sponsorship, (4) sports media, and (5) academic research institutions in China. The interviews aimed at revealing further insights into how ambush campaigns are perceived within China as well as to further its possible sociological and economical causes. Results revealed that although ambush marketing was regulated during the 2008 Summer Olympics, it is still common in China. The current situation of ambush marketing in China is shaped by five factors including: (1) media, (2) legal system, (3) government relationships, (4) event organizers’ experience, and (5) contemporary culture.

The study reveal ambush marketing is with the background that China possesses a socialist political background while having a period of capitalistic economic development. The importance of the government’s role in maintaining the socialistic culture in economic development cannot be neglected. Also, the triangulated contemporary culture (includes traditional, communism and capitalism) is a big influence to the "Chinese characteristics" in the country’s sport sponsorship.

Keywords: sport sponsorship, China,

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I would like to express the sincere appreciation to my supervisors Professor Benoit Séguin and Professor Norm O’Reilly. Their attitude and knowledge inspire me to continually and convincingly convey a spirit of adventure in regard to research and scholarship. Without their guidance and persistent help, this thesis would not have been possible.

I would like to thank my committee members, Professor Eric MacIntosh and Professor Holger Preuss, who provided the useful comments, remarks and engagement through the learning process of this master thesis.

In addition, I want to thank Professor Li Shengxin and Professor Zou Xinxian who provided me suggestions in conducting research and contacting the experts while I was in China.

Thanks to Dr. Li Jingxian who cared about me just like a family member during my stay in Ottawa. Thanks for her comments and help in analysing my Mandarin data. Also, I would like to thank all the participants in my survey, who have willingly shared their precious time during the process of interviewing.

I would like to thank my parents who financed my education and provided me the chance to study abroad, which has brought a lot of positive influences to my life. Their endless love makes all my efforts worthwhile. Thanks to all my colleagues and friends’ help and

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Abstract…………………………………………………………………………..…….…..….....2 Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………..……………..……3 Table of Contents………………………………………………………..…...….....……….…....4 List of Figures…………………………………………………….………...………..……...…...7 List of Tables……………………………………………………………………………………..8 Introduction……………………………………………………….…………………..…………9 Background……………………………………………….…….…………………….…..….…12 Literature Review…………………………………………..…………………………..………15 Overview of Ambush Marketing………………………………………………………..…15 Definition of ambush marketing …………………….…………………………...…..15 Consumer reaction…………………….……………………………………......….….17 Ethical debate and legal issue……………………...…………………….…...…...…..20 Anti-ambush marketing strategies………………………….………………...……....22 China, Sport Sponsorship and Ambush Marketing...……………………...…………….24 Chinese Characteristic……………





Sport Sponsorship in China………………………………………...…………….…...25 Ambush marketing Research in China……………………………………………………27 Methodology…………………………………………………………………………………….34 Semi-structured interview…………………………………………...…………….………34 Content analysis of Documents /Archive materials……………………...….…...……….38 Thematic Data Analysis………………………...…………………...…………..…………39

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Theme one: “Chinese Characteristic" Media……………….……………………………46 Monopolization? Centralization? or Commercialization?

“Sports Media Doesn’t Need to Pay for the Broadcasting Fee in China”……….….48 Consume Sports: Is China a Market as large as its Population?

Media: with its Full Power……………………………………………………...……..52 The New Media Era………………………………………………………………...….52 Theme two: “Chinese Characteristic” Legal System …………………………..………..53 How does IPR Protection Affect Ambush Marketing in China?

“As Long as it doesn’t Conflict with the Law”……………………………………….56 Legal Implement/Enforcement………………………………………………………...58 Is it priority to Classify Ambush Marketing a Legal Issue in China?

Theme three: Government relationship…………………………………………………..61 “The Government is the biggest sponsor in China” ……………………………...….61 The Government Resources…………………………..….…………………………….64 How Stakeholders Maintain their Government Relationship? ……...……………...66 Theme four: Inside Sports Business Education of Ambush Marketing………….……..67 Sport Sponsorship Education…………………………………………………….……68 IPR protection Education………………………...………………….………..……….69 Theme five: Culture: Ambush marketing is still popular in China……………………..70 Traditional Chinese Culture Affection………………………………………………..70 Communism Ideals’ Affection…………………………………………………..……..72 Capitalism Way in China’s Economic Development……………………………...…73 Current Triangulated Culture in China……………………………...……………....74

AMBUSH MARKETING: A CHINESE PERSPECTIVE 6

Conclusions……………………………...……………………………………….………….…..75 Limitation and further research……………………………………...……….……….………80 References…………………………………………………...………………………...………...83 Appendix 1: Interview Guideline………………………………………………..…………….96 Appendix 2: The 16 Chinese Core Journals……………………………….……..……...........99 Appendix 3: Information of Interviewees…………………………………...……...……….100

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Figure 1. Number of Chinese scholarly article in China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) and Wanfang Data…….

..…

Figure 2. Steps for this qualitative research……………………………….

……...….…...…..….35 Figure 3.The Experts of Sports Sponsorship in China………………….………………….…….37 Figure 4. Five themes and sub-themes of the results…………………………………………….43

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Table 1. The comparison of the attitude towards ambush marketing between China and Western countries…………………………………………………………………….

..………...………..78 Table 2. The comparison of the attitude towards ambush marketing between China and Western

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Ambush marketing has been part of scholastic discussion surrounding sponsorship over the past 25 years (Ellis, Scassa, & Seguin, 2011). Simply put, ambush marketing is a deliberate effort by non-sponsors who aim to associate themselves with a major event in order to deflect the consumer’s attention away from official sponsors (Bean, 1995; Meenaghan, 1994, 1996; Sandler & Shani, 1989, 1993). Previous research has shown that ambush marketing, whether legal or illegal, clashes with the already established value of sponsorship rights by causing confusion amongst consumers (Humphreys, Cornwell, McAlister, Kelly, Quinn, & Murray, 2010; Pitt, Parent, Berthon, & Steyn, 2010; Sandler & Shani, 1989; Seguin, Lyberger, O’Reilly, & McArthy, 2005). Once the media pertaining to the event are filled with ambush marketers’ initiatives, potential sponsors might no longer want to invest money into the event (Johnson, 2011;

Meenaghan, 1994). Since any company can take advantage of an association by not buying the rights for the event, sport organizers should urgently address ambush marketing activities.

Moreover, in recent years, local governments have started to cooperate with sport governing

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effort to reduce ambush marketing. Along with the expansion of global sport, China’s sport industry expansion has grown by leaps and bounds (Xiao & Yuan, 2008). Given that these events are often viewed as a great opportunity to stimulate the development of the sport industry in one country, actions such as the passing of special legislation to protect sponsors against ambush marketing at the 2008 Olympic Games in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were deemed necessary (Xiao & Yuan, 2008; Xu, 2007). Since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) and winning the bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics in 2001, China put greater effort into

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now hosts top tier sport events such as Formula One racing, National Basketball Association (NBA) pre-season games, the Masters Tennis Cup, the Premier League Final, and the Golf Asian tour, which makes sport events organizing one of the most prosperous industries in China (Liu, Huang, & Jiang, 2007).

However, in terms of ambush marketing, notorious for its low infringement awareness and brand protection, China was previously “a country prone to ambush marketing” (Preuss, Gemeinder, & Seguin, 2008, p. 259). Moreover, the “Li Ning affair” which happened during the 2008 Olympic Games became one of the top discussions around the Games (Pitt et al., 2010, p.

282). The ambush occurred when former gymnast Li Ning, a Chinese national hero and the most decorated athlete at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, was hoisted 75 feet in the air by cables and ran around the inside perimeter of the Bird’s Nest arena to ignite the Olympic flame in front of thousands of spectators on-site and billions of television viewers worldwide. Since Li Ning’s sportswear company share the same name as its creator, without any commercial interruption, the two minute international advertising was captured by global media as an ambushing activity for Li Ning Company. It is the most well-known example of ambush marketing at the 2008 Olympic Games as it successfully confused the public about who was the official sponsor, in this case, Adidas (Pitt et al., 2010). Beyond the Li Ning affair, many business organizations, such as the milk company Mengniu, the China Merchant Bank (CMB), and the electrical equipment firm Xinfei, also took advantage of ambush marketing strategies around the time of the 2008 Olympic Games (Xiao & Mao, 2008).

Although there are a small number of studies which investigate ambush marketing under the culture and policy of China during its sports globalism (Pitt et al., 2010; Preuss et al., 2008;

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