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Agrimarketing : November December 2008
AGRI-MARKETERS IN ACTION ANOLYMPICEXPERIENCE H by ShanettaMcDonald, Project Coordinator, Rhea + KaiserMarketing Communications owmany people get the oppor- tunity towitness the biggest traditional sporting event in history—with front rowseats? ChristinaHarp,Account Coordi- nator on the Bayer CropScience account at Rhea + KaiserMarketing Communications, knows firsthand howfascinating such an experience can be.Harp, a recent graduate of Purdue University,was one of 13 students chosen to serve as a liaison for theOlympicNews Service at the 2008OlympicGames. The student groupwas orga- nized through the BeijingOlympic Committee and the Communication University of China. The seven- week programincluded amonth of training that taught students about media services and cycling, the sport inwhich they covered. InMay, students also received training on Chinese customs, languages and business practices. As a liaison,Harpworked as a photo position assistant at the Laoshan Cycling Venue. She aided photographers in photo production, communicationwith their assistants and understanding of and adherence to the rules of the cycling events. Steve Rhea, President/CEO of Rhea + Kaiser,was thrilledHarp had the opportunity to experience the Olympics and play an important support role formedia covering the games. “It speaks highly of Christina that shewas selected for such a unique assignment,” Rhea said. TAKINGIT ALL IN An estimated 6.5million visitors attended the 2008 Olympics— 382,000 ofwhomcame fromoutside of China. So, howdid a citywith a population of 17.4millionmake so many cultures feel at homewhile building interest in the games? Harp saidmarketing of the games appeared nearly seamless whether on the streets or the sub- ways of Beijing. She said her first taste of the games’ pervasiveness 36 AgriMarketing s November/December 2008 camemoments after landing in Beijing. “Arriving at Bei- jing InternationalAir- portwas almost over- whelming, as if Beijing and the OlympicGameswere one and the same,” she said.Multilingual volunteers assisted visitorswith knowl- edge about the city, and cab driverswere either fluent in Eng- lish and Chinese or used translation devices to understand other languages. “Even the receptionist desk at the Beijing OlympicMedia Center had signs inmore than five languages. Foreseeing that language barriers could be an issue allowed the gov- ernment to implement strategies to avoid such problems,”Harp said. She also noticed that all traffic signs were translated in English and Chinese andweremarkedwith the Beijing Olympic Games emblemand color scheme. The Chinese government also invested in less traditionalmarketing approaches to educate people on Olympic sporting events. Through BeijingMobile TV, digital televi- sions,whichwere located on sub- ways, featured live broadcasts of the games, played short tutorials explain- ing the rules and point systemof dif- ferent sports and demonstrated how certain games should be played. “There are definitely some sports that arewatchedmore than others,” Harp said. “The televised tutorials sparked interest in the games over- all, but especially in the least watched sporting events, such as archery and fencing.” Subway riders got another sur- prise. The Olympics’ print adver- tisementswere posted on thewalls of subway tunnels so that passen- gers sawflashing pictures that for- mulated into a story.The promotion Rhea + Kaiser’sChristina Harp at the cycling segment of theMen’s Triathlonat the 2008 Beijing Olympics. attracted passengers to Olympic ath- letes “inmotion.” “Visitorswere amazed,”Harp said. “Before you knewit, youwere watching a story. Itwas so unex- pected, that youwere drawn to it.” BACK HOME AGAIN Harp said she’ll remember all of her Olympic experiences for the rest of her life, and believes she’ll apply lessons learnedwhile in Beijing inmanyways. “My role as a liaison enabledme to learn aboutmanagingmedia and events. Iwas in a position to observe all of the logistics andmarketing of the Olympics,”Harp said. “I could almost feelmy communications skills sharpeningmoment tomoment.” Harp acknowledges that her multitasking abilities also are stronger. “Monitoring the crowd and photographers during the games was harder than I expected. I learned to focusmy attention onmore than one thingwithoutmissing important details,” she said. “The Chinesewere very patient and took their timewith tasks,” she said. “Western culture is so fast- paced,which doesn’t allowus to stay in the present.Now, I try to take a step back and live in themoment.” Formore information onHarp’s trip to Beijing, visither blog at http://onthedownlomein.blogspot.com/.AM
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