usapavilionexpo-logo.jpgIt seems like just yesterday that western and Chinese businesses were boasting of the huge marketing possibilities offered by China's hosting of the 2008 Olympics.

Well, for those who missed that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, there's another one coming next year, the Shanghai World Expo.

With Expo 2010 less than a year away, more than 190 countries have committed to participate in the Expo. Approximately 70m visitors, including an anticipated 60m from China are expected to attend the Expo. The theme, somewhat inevitably after last year's “green” Olympics is building “a healthier, more sustainable urban environment”.

I'm not sure if Shanghai would top my list of the world's most sustainable cities but the Chinese clearly think differently.

Most national pavilions are being funded by a public/private partnership that will enable countries to build pavilions costing tens of millions of dollars.

But the US suffers from the handicap that a 1991 law prohibits it from using government funds to design, construct or operate a national pavilion.

As a result, organisers of the USA Pavilion must raise $50m to $60m from private sources and American companies are feeling the pressure to contribute.

It is hardly the best time to be asking US businesses to dip their hands into their pockets. Those that ploughed money into the 2008 Olympics are probably still trying to work out if the investment was worthwhile. Coming so soon after that event, a certain amount of “donor fatigue” seems inevitable. And let's not forget there is a worldwide recession.

Nevertheless, the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai is trying to drum up interest among the US business community in China and has produced a document extolling the business case for sponsorship.

Among the household names to already pledge funds are Dell, 3M, Yum! Brands and PepsiCo.

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