China expects to break an Olympic record in sales of licensed products for the 2008 Beijing Games, spurred by an extensive marketing campaign for the Olympics mascot.
Officials with the Beijing Olympic organizing committee refused to give details about the mascot, or perhaps mascots, though earlier this year about a half-dozen candidates from the panda to the Tibetan antelope were under consideration.
But Chinese leaders will announce the result of the highly secretive selection process on Nov. 11, the 1,000-day mark before the Games, officials said. Amid fanfare that will include a gala in a Beijing stadium, the marketing program will kick into high gear.
"The launch of the mascot will carry sales of Olympic products to a new height," Lai Ming, director of the organizing committee's marketing department, said at a news conference. "We believe the sales volume will be bigger than the previous Olympic Games."
Mascots are the most marketable symbols in the Olympics business. The choice is important as sales of licensed products and helps organizers defray the costs of staging the Games.
Lai did not provide projected sales figures for 2008. But recent Olympics have generated more than US$300 million in sales of licensed products, many of them emblazoned with the mascot, and local organizers keep about 10 percent to 15 percent of that in royalties.
More than 300 types of licensed products bearing the mascot will go on sale at 188 authorized venues across China the day after the announcement, from fluorescent pens that cost 75 eurocents to souvenirs made with precious metals for thousands of euros.
While officials maintained strict secrecy about the mascot, they opened a crack on the yearlong, closed-door selection, the AP reports.