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Five things you need to know about: Shanghai Expo marketing

2010. 2 April

by Debby Cheung
Debby Cheung, group managing director of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide/China, shares her insight on the highly anticipated, six month extravaganza known as World Expo 2010 Shanghai, and gives advice on how marketers can make the most of this monumental opportunity.

1. Bring your A game.

( 192 countries and 50 organisations will take part in the Shanghai Expo – not to mention the brands that will jockey for position with guerilla marketing.
Competition for media and consumer attention will be fierce, and the battle will play out both on the ground and online. All involved in the Expo will be scrambling to reach out to consumers to reinforce the faces and personalities of their brands. To be heard, brands will need to pull out all the stops and create bold, determined, decisive and cross-discipline strategies. There will be no room for the faint or half-hearted.

2. Prolong the hype.

The Olympics comprise of 16 days of intense and enthusiastic campaigns that are more easily sustained due to the short duration of the event; but Expo is a whole different animal. This event spans six months, making sustained hype key to the success of campaigns. Without recurring, innovative and ever-changing infusions of activities, campaigns will get lost in the crowd.

3. Non-sponsors get on the bus by thinking green.

The theme, 'Better City, Better Life' means that anything sustainable and environmentally friendly is your ticket to an association with the Expo. Sponsors are not the only ones who can leverage this event – all brands should be thinking green to piggyback on the Expo theme. Moreover, the Shanghai government, Expo and organisations will continually look for new partnership opportunities so non-sponsors will have plenty of chances to take part. With 20,000 events in Shanghai, both on and off the Expo site, opportunities to contribute to the green theme are endless.

4. Think beyond Shanghai.

This Expo is expected to generate the largest number of visitors in the history of the event, and only 5 per cent of them will be from outside China. Domestic visitors are estimated at 70 million, with 75 per cent of them coming from second and third tier cities. As Shanghai is simply not equipped to accommodate so many visitors, the government has already secured the support of surrounding cities to help accommodate the overflow. As a result, effective marketing campaign strategies need to think beyond the borders of the already overcrowded and extraordinarily competitive Shanghai market.

5. Expo goes mobile.

3G and the connectivity of Blackberry phones and mobile devices mean visitors will be constantly on the lookout for the best and most interesting places to go and both positive and negative reports will travel at the speed of light. When mapping out Expo strategies, marketers need to capitalise on these channels and not shy away from them. The sheer size of the Expo will make targeting the right audience with traditional marketing a challenge, but mobile and online strategies will level the playing field.