Business Club Australia (BCA) was Australia's official business program during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, one of the most ambitious Australian programs ever attempted on the international stage. BCA targets strategic industry sectors (including the sports sector), provides a platform that unites Australian business activities and enables business matching and relationships to form.
In 2007, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) endorsed BCA as "Australia's international business program at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games". This helped create a united "Australia Inc" approach to Australian business activities in China during the Olympics.
Over 4,000 Australian and Chinese business people visited the BCA Beijing 2008 venue, attending some of the 51 business networking events that were run over the 17 days of the Games. The program has also hosted 15 business and industry functions covering financial services, mining, clean energy, biotechnology, sport and a London 2012 Olympic Games reception. In addition, the corporate hospitality program saw 600 business executives experience an Olympic sporting session as a guest of BCA.
Described by J R Wu, Dow Jones Beijing Bureau Chief as being "the post professional of any country program during the Games", BCA Beijing 2008 was the most significant BCA program to be implemented by Austrade overseas.
In 2007, China surpassed Japan as Australia's largest trading partner and became a key priority in the Government's foreign policy. The newly-elected, Mandarin-speaking Prime Minister also made a public commitment to fostering closer ties with China.
Business Club Australia (BCA) is a highly successful business networking program operating through the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade). The program uses major internnational sporting events to create networking opportunities for Australian business. Matching these companies with key trade stakeholders demonstrates Australia's capabilities, resulting in exporting and investment agreements.
Recognising the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as an ideal opportunity to progress critical trading links and develop valuable networks, the Australian Olympic Games Committee (AOC) officially endorsed BCA Beijing 2008 as Australia's official business program at the Games.
With world attention focused on the Beijing Games, the intent of BCA Beijing 2008 was to promote the business capabilities of "Australia Inc" to the world. Presenting a united front and creating a positive image was considered a strategy for success in China.
Given the highly saturated media environment - over 30,000 journalists were expected to attend the Games - the BCA media strategy was to leverage this attention to gain national and international exposure for the program and its business outcomes. This approach had already proved very successful during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Analysis of economic data by Austrade confirmed China as Australia's largest trading partner, with two-way trade in goods reaching $52.7 billion in 2007. This substantiated the decision to implement BCA Beijing 2008 and facilitate business opportunities for Australian companies.
The BCA team also conducted business intelligence gathering and identified at least 450 Australian companies who were intending to visit China during the Games. This information, along with the knowledge that other Trade Promotional Organisations were not intending to run their business programs during the Olympics, endorsed Austrade's strategic decision to invest in the BCA Beijing 2008 initiative.
Information sourced by the BCA team indicated that many of the 21,000 accredited international media representatives and 10,000 non-accredited media expected at the Games would be operating under extremely tight budgets and schedules. This knowledge helped shape the BCA media strategy, with the appreciation of the need to provide journalists with as many news and interview opportunities as possible, in as straightforward a manner as possible.
In order to gain an understanding of the Beijing media environment, the team arranged meetings with China-based representatives of Austrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Consultations with the AOC and Australian host broadcaster Channel Seven also provided valuable advice, including the decision to conduct a press briefing in Beijing prior to the start of the Games.
A range of audiences were targeted for the program's key messages: 1
- Decision makers from Australian businesses interested in, or already trading with, China
- Australian companies involved in the Government's trade priorities of clean energy and the environment, financial services, mining and sports infrastructure.
- Chinese decision makers with an interest in trading with Australia
The campaign also focused on countries with strong economic or political ties to Australia, and countries with major sporting events scheduled in the next two years.
This approach raised awareness of BCA Beijing 2008, while highlighting the 'Australia Inc' message and confirming the importance of China as a trade partner.
1. Appendix A:1 BCA Beijing 2008 key messages.
The strategy comprised four key approaches
1. Raising awareness of the BCA program in the lead-up to the Games by cultivating relationships with relevant journalists and leveraging the intense media interest to place stories on Australian companies winning business in China.
2. Managing stakeholder relationships to ensure consistent messaging. Critical to the success of this approach was establishing a Roundtable Advisory Group. This group, which comprised senior Australian executives 2, ensured a consistent approach to the 'Australia Inc' messaging.3 It also provided access to a braod range of channels and high profile spokespeople that would otherwise have been unobtainable within their BCA budget.
3. Positioning BCA Beijing 2008 as the central hub for breaking news and business stories during the Games. This strategy ensured journalists has ease of access to numerous media opportunities and could liaise with expert commentators on Chinese-Australian business affairs.
4. Developing a distinct visual image for BCA Beijing 2008 enhanced the communications strategy by incorporating colour and imagery considered by the Chinese to represent luck and respect. This vibrant and engaging creative retained a strong link to the overall BCA brand, but added a fresh approach.
2 Appendix A:2 Roundtable Advisory Group member list
3 Appendix A:3 Media clip: Weekend Australian p36 "Blue chips out to mine Olympic Gold"
Implementation of the strategy included the following tactics:
Raising awareness of the BCA program
- Launch event of BCA Beijing 2008 in Sydney with Government VIP's, program ambassadors, high profile senior executives and media.
- Created and maintained an extensive database of targeted media contacts
- Launched and regularly updated BCA website; companies could register interest in participating in the program
- E-newsletter distributed monthly to over 11,00 companies
- Numerous stories placed, aligned to the government's primary objectives of Clean Energy, Mining, Financial Services and the Business of Sport 4
- Delivered briefings in Sydney and Beijing
- Produced two video press releases, with the Minister for Trade's involvement, delivered direct to newsrooms, to generate coverage on key BCA stories
- Commissioned a one minute video on BCA screened at all BCA events and on Qantas flights 5
Managing stakeholder relationships to ensure consistent messaging
- Established a Roundtable Advisory Group comprised of senior business executives to deliver a coherent business strategy for the 'Australia Inc' approach 6
- Provided a wallet-sized 'message card' to all Rountable members as a reference guide to BCA messages
- Engaged with high-profile ambassadors to gain extensive (and free) exposure
- Xiao Hailiang, Chinese Olympic diving gold medalist and Australian wine importer
- Johanna Griggs, Channel Seven sports host
- David Clarke AO, Chairman, Macquarie Bank
- Developed a competition 'Win Business Gold in China', in partnership with Telstra Business, to send 12 Small to Medium Business Enterprises (SMEs) to the Games
- Engaged with key state and federal government departments to generate awareness and encourage their buy-in
- Leveraged sponsor communication channels:
- Qantas "Talking Business" in-flight radio interviews with Peter Switzer and targeted Australian businesspeople involved in BCA
- BCA video screened on all international Qantas flights.
Position BCA Beijing 2008as the central hub for information
- Engaged with media through press releases, invitations to events, daily email and SMS messages
- Used VIP's tp attract media interest, including:
- The Prime Minister of Australia, teh Hon Kevin Rudd MP, opening BCA Beijing 2008 at the Hilton Hotel
- Australian swimmers Grant Hackett and Stephanie Rice attending the BCA Mining function 7
- Coordination between BCA team members in Sydney and Beijing encouraged coverage of BCA events and announcements
Developing a distinct visual image
- Chinese and Australian imagery was developed and used on all collateral. 8
4 Appendix A:4 Media clip: Australian p5 "Going for Gold"
5 Appendix A:5 One minute BCA DVD
6 Appendix A:6 Media Clip: Australian Financial Review p1 "Business elite chase gold in Beijing"
7 Appendix A:7 Media clip: Australian Financial Review p2 "Austrade grabs gold"
8 Appendix A:8 BCA Beijing 2008 branding
An independent evaluation of the BCA Beijing 2008 communications campaign and objectives was conservatively measured by Cubit Media Research, demonstrating that the strategic intent was acheived:
- Australian media consumers were provided with 34.9 million opportunities to see articles and broadcast coverage dealing with the BCA program (a total of 605 media items); 10
- The campaign reached the targeted business audiences; 11
- The campaign had a 100 per cent favourability rating; 12
- The campaign was successful in terms of key message penetration in the media. 13
In recognition of the extraordinary success of the program, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) published a case study on BCA to assist future bidding cities, while other Trade Promotion Organisations are replicating BCA in India, Canada, New Zealand and Scotland.
10 Appendix A:10 Cubit circulation exposure graph
11 Appendix A:11 Cubit breakdown in volume and favourability graph
12 Appendix A:12 Cubit favourability and impact of media items graph
13 Appendix A:13 Cubit leading key messages
Highlight the importance of international business engagement and the benefits it delivers Australia, specifically trade and investment
- The Australian Minister for Trade, the Hon Simon Crean MP, led an Australian Clean Energy mission to Beijing and Guangzhou to promote Australian expertise 14
- The Cubit media report demonstrated that the most prominent non-key message was "Australian clean energy products and services are becoming increasingly viable in China' 15
- China was presented as a place that offers massive export opportunities for SME's
- 605 articles were generated in the months leading up to the Games. 16
Promote the diversity of business opportunities available in China, particularly in key strategic industry sectors.
- Australian media consumers were provided with 34.9 million opportunities to see articles and broadcast coverage dealing the BCA program. Companies received extensive coverage17 including:
- Biograde, an SME developer of world-leading biodegradable packaging for the Games.
- PTW Architects, designers of the Beijing National Aquatic Centre (Watercube)
- NSW honey producer, Superbee, established valuable trading links
- Electronic software company Altium received coverage for its ground-breaking Intellectual Property deal with the Chinese government and universities
- Financial services: three memorandums of understanding were signed.
Position BCA as the platform for Australian businesses to increase presence or enter into the lucrative Chinese market, encouraging participation from all levels of Australian businesses.
- A post-Games survey of Australian companies showed ten had already achieved business deals. 54 per cent of comapnies indicated that BCA helped establish a new international businesses relationship and 100 per cent said that it had strengthened an existing relationship.
- The BCA website had over 11,500 visitors from March to September 2008 with 60 per cent first-time visitors
- BCA's global email newsletter reached more than 11,000 business people monthly
- Proactive efforts to place stories ensured the BCA initiative was viewed as a source of story ideas, expert commentary, and access to business and sporting talent.
Position BCA as the single national platform promoting Australia during the Olympics
- The BCA venue at the Hilton Hotel Beijing hosted over 4,000 business leaders, including attendance at some of the 51 events
- Over 400 individual Australian and 200 individual Chinese business executives participated, including 70 VIP importers of Australian products and services across China.
Leverage Sponsorship and stakeholder conections to present consolidated messages.
- Led by BCA and supported by 40 private and public sector organisations, 18 the Cubit report confirmed the campaign was successful in terms of key stakeholder penetration 19
- BCA Ambassador Johanna Griggs's involvement through Channel Seven provided exposure valued at $30,000
- Telstra Business independently calculated more than A$2 million of publicity was generated through the Win Business Gold in China competition
- Qantas promotions reached 4.4 million in viewers.
Use the Games as a showcase of the Australian sports industry (and major event) capability
- The Australian minister for Trade, the Hon Simon Crean MP hosted a London 2012 reception, matching Australian businesses with London 2012 Olympic organisers
- Sydney company Ahida's body-covering sportswear for Muslim women received major coverage increasing sales by 15 per cent and website traffic by 300 per cent 20
14 Appendix A:14 Media clip: Australian p31 "Green firms aim for Olympic gold"
15 Appendix A:15 Cubit leading non-key messages
16 Appendix A:16 Cubit coverage timeline graph
17 Appendix A:17 Four minute DVD featuring media coverage
18 Appendix A:18 Media clip: Australian p6 "Austrade to fight Olympic visa cuts"
19 Appendix A:19 Cubit external spokespeople graph
20 Appendix A:20 Media clip: Adelaide Advertiser p54 "Fast and faithful"