Companies hope soccer match gives images a big kick
Updated: 2011-08-06 07:48
By Wang Wen and Shen Jingting (China Daily)
BEIJING - Two years ago, when the Italian Supercoppa soccer match was staged in the Bird's Nest stadium for the first time, the only sponsorship that host Wang Hui had was from his brother-in-law.
However, four months before the Supercoppa was due to return this year, hungry local investors started fighting for sponsorships, wanting the opportunity to expand their international exposure.
Unlike other commercial competitions, which are moneymaking tours for the European clubs, the Italian Supercoppa is a major event between Italy's best clubs competing for a top trophy.
Tickets have been priced up to nearly 4,000 yuan ($625), well above the average monthly income in China, but the tickets below 1,000 yuan were sold out in a day after the sales started, said Wang, president of the United Vansen International Sports Co Ltd, which organized the 2011 Italian Supercoppa in Beijing.
The rare scene for sports fans is also expected to attract tens of millions of viewers in China, Italy and regions around the world.
Domestic brands knocked at Wang's door to bid for a billboard around the soccer pitch, Wang said.
China has stepped into a phase when Chinese companies are showing an unprecedented passion to sponsor sports events, analysts said.
There were two successful cases that emerged from dozens of Chinese sponsorships. In 2008, Lenovo Group invested $60 million in supporting the 2008 Beijing Olympics, while in 2010, Hebei-based Yingli Green Energy invested about $20 million in endorsing the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
"In addition to attracting domestic football fans, we will also use the Italian Supercoppa to boost Huawei's smartphone business in European countries and beyond," Wan Biao, chief executive officer of Huawei Device, told China Daily.
Huawei Technologies, the world's No 2 telecommunication equipment maker after Sweden's Ericsson, signed the sponsorship contract in two months' time to become the lead sponsor.
Though its sponsorship fee has not been disclosed, Wang said it dwarfs the 12 million yuan spent by beverage maker Red Bull for the final in 2009.
The company, which regards the device business as its new cash cow, plans to invest about 100 million yuan in various mobile phone promotions surrounding the 2011 Italian Supercoppa.
Wan revealed that Huawei aims to be in the top three mobile phone makers worldwide by 2015. He expected the company to achieve more than $8 billion in revenue globally this year, up from $4.5 billion in 2010.
Tries Group, a clothing manufacturer based in Fujian province, also sunk a lot into the Supercoppa to become the official suit supplier of the match.
Tries' investment should be several million yuan, said Wang, who refused to release the exact number, but it is about 50 percent more than sponsorships in 2009.
"The match reaches a large international market and we expect it could help Tries to be more international," said Cai Yanying, chairman assistant of Tries.
Wang said they only accepted five sponsors for the match, which brought in about 80 percent more sponsorships compared to 2009, which was 16 million yuan.
However, many other Chinese companies are still trying to find a chance to be involved in the international event.
"As a Chinese luxury brand, we want to gain recognition from Milan - the international fashion capital," said Zhang Zhifeng, chairman of NE Tiger Fashion, a Shanghai-based luxury Chinese dress manufacturer.
NE Tiger, which planned to show its products at the Bird's Nest just before the match, finally organized a small fashion show with 11 models at the charity banquet hosted by Wang.
Beijing United Crescent Taxi Company supplied buses for the two clubs' logistics in Beijing and the company got the right to put the match's logo on its taxis.
"It was impossible in the past for sponsors to even supply transportation," said Xu Yanbo, vice-president of GreatGate Sports Management Co Ltd, which used to organize China tours for Spanish soccer clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The Spanish giant Real Madrid is also in China this week for a commercial tour and promotional rallies in two Chinese cities. Xu Jiayin, a real estate tycoon who owns China's richest soccer club, reportedly paid 10 million yuan to invite Real Madrid players to attend his own business rallies.
"Chinese companies usually pay double the price than their foreign counterparts in introducing a world-class event," said Feng Tao, general director of Hejun Sports Management.
He added that most Chinese companies do not achieve satisfactory results from the events they sponsor.
Some cases fail because sponsors enjoy little media exposure, or they were not experienced in operating and promoting the event, Feng said.
"Remember, not every world-class sporting event can be a cash cow or boost the reputation for your company," Feng said.
(China Daily 08/06/2011 page1)
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