The Swiss economy scores in China: They’ve little chance of medals – yet it’s the Swiss who have just landed their first gold at the Olympic Games in Beijing. The private sector of this small nation has profiled itself more skilfully in Beijing than any other country… (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 4 August, 2008)
Such were the words used by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 4 August 2008 to describe the House of Switzerland in Beijing.
The official Swiss guest centre at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing was conceived as a public-private partnership to serve as a marketing platform for Swiss companies and tourist destinations, with the project managed by Presence Switzerland.
Thanks to a broad-based and intensive media campaign, targeted marketing measures, and a culturally diverse programme of entertainment, the House of Switzerland 2008 became very well known among Chinese and international visitors alike. The results, as gleaned through numerous press reports as well as a target group survey, showed that the project had succeeded in raising the profile of Switzerland in China in a lasting way.
Through the establishment of the House of Switzerland in Beijing, the official Swiss presence achieved its aim of raising awareness of Switzerland in the target market of China, as well as promoting the image of Switzerland as an innovative, international, and attractive location.
The 2008 Summer Olympic Games were held from 8 – 24 August 2008, primarily in the Chinese capital of Beijing. These were the first Summer Games to take place in China. More than 11,000 participants from over 200 nations competed in a total of 28 sporting disciplines. In addition to 21,600 journalists (including some 100 from Switzerland) more than 1.5 million visitors travelled to Beijing from outside China alone. The organisational costs of the 2008 Olympic Games are estimated to amount to approximately CHF 45 billion.
The “House of Switzerland 2008, China” was located in north-east Beijing, in the fashionable and popular Dashanzi 798 Art Zone, a cultural and artistic district situated between the capital’s third and fourth ring roads.
The choice of the 706 Factory Hall in the 798 Art Zone as the House of Switzerland’s location proved a stroke of good luck. This artistic quarter became increasingly popular in the few months leading up to the Summer Olympics, becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in Beijing for local and international visitors alike. News of the Swiss guest centre spread like wildfire among visitors and tourists, which led to thousands of guests visiting the centre every day.
For the “House of Switzerland 2008 – Beijing” project, Presence Switzerland agreed on an exclusive partnership with the city of Lucerne and the Lake Lucerne region. Together with its commercial partners, Lucerne and the Lake Lucerne region skilfully used the House in Beijing as a marketing platform, profiling itself as an attractive tourist destination and dynamic commercial location. In addition, Swiss folklore and music groups from central Switzerland contributed to the wide variety of entertainment staged in the House of Switzerland and gained the undivided attention of numerous visitors.
The House of Switzerland in Beijing was the backdrop for any number of highlights during the period 1 – 24 August 2008. Among the largest and most spectacular such events were the medal celebrations of Fabian Cancellara (cycling, gold in men’s time trial and bronze in men’s road race), Karin Thürig (cycling, bronze in women’s time trial) and Sergei Aschwanden (bronze in men’s judo), who celebrated their successes jointly in the House of Switzerland on 14 August 2008. Just three days later it was the turn of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka (gold in tennis, men’s doubles) to provide the ecstatic visitors with a further cause for celebration. The medal celebrations in the Swiss guest centre, involving the Olympic victors and their fans, lasted into the early hours of 18 August. The final medal celebrations took place on 23 August, one day before the House of Switzerland 2008 closed, when another large crowd assembled in the House of Switzerland to celebrate the achievement of Nino Schurter (bronze, men’s mountain bike).
Other highlights at the House of Switzerland, particularly for politicians, officials, and Swiss citizens living in Beijing, included the 1 August celebration of the Swiss Club in Beijing and an official reception hosted by Federal Councillor Pascal Couchepin on 9 August. The guests at this invitation-only event included the former IOC President, Juan Antonio Samaranch, as well as Rita Fuhrer and Sepp Blatter.
Opening period: 1 – 24 August 2008, total 24 days
123,788 electronically registered visits (of which 90% were Chinese).
389 articles appeared in the Chinese print and online media between April and the end of September 2008.
A further 20 TV and two radio profiles in China about the House, among them several on China's largest TV station, CCTV.
616 media reports on the House of Switzerland appeared in the Swiss media between 1 November 2007 and 26 August 2008.
Lead: Presence Switzerland for overall project management coordination as well as marketing and media work
Main sponsor: Lucerne Tourism and the Lake Lucerne region for the design of exhibition content, the “Expo Park”, and the support of the 12 Expo partners
Expo partners: Carl F. Bucherer, Lindt & Sprüngli, Luzern Tourismus AG; Maxon Motor, Nestlé, Schindler, Securitas, Syngenta, Titlis Rotair, UBS, Victorinox, Wirtschaftsförderung Luzern (Association for the Economic Development of Lucerne)
Official sponsors: Holcim, Nestlé, Omega, and Swiss Intl. Airlines as main sponsors
Official partners: Swiss Olympic for official medal celebrations for athletes; Schweizer Fernsehen (Swiss TV), which used the House of Switzerland as a venue for recording and broadcasting; Switzerland Tourism as representative of the Swiss tourist industry as a whole.