China Protests Singe Torch Sponsor Lenovo

Computer maker invested $100M; 'didn't anticipate' brouhaha
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Apr 14, 2008 10:42 AM CDT
Employees prepare computers on display at the Lenovo headquarters in Beijing, in this Aug. 8, 2007 photo.    (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)
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(Newser) – Lenovo execs were hoping for some major branding momentum from winning the Olympic torch design competition—not to mention from plunking down some $100 million as sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Games. What they got was anti-China vitriol that has accompanied the torch around the globe, and a marketing campaign fast going up in smoke, reports the Wall Street Journal.

"I just didn't anticipate something like that happening," says the marketing chief for the world’s fourth-largest computer maker, which bought IBM’s PC division in 2005 and controls 30% of the Chinese PC market. Lenovo bristles at being called “the Chinese PC company,” says its American CEO. But, analysts say, “China” as a brand is in for a rough ride in the coming months. (Read more 2008 Beijing Olympics stories.)