China Daily (Canada) - - IN DEPTH -

For NBA China, cor­po­rate spon­sor­ships (sig­nage sales) have been a ma­jor part of rev­enue, and through­out the years big multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions such as McDon­ald’s, Bud­weiser, Co­caCola and Adi­das have used the NBA to ex­pand their mar­ket shares in China.

Fol­low­ing the big multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions, some Chi­nese com­pa­nies have also jumped on the NBA plat­form to cap­ture the do­mes­tic mar­ket in China. NBA China’s cur­rent ma­jor spon­sors in­clude AB InBev (Harbin Beer), Adi­das, Cathay Fi­nan­cial Group (Tai­wan), Ga­torade, Meng­niu Milk, Nike, PEAK, SAP, Spald­ing, Sprite and ZTE Mo­bile. Five of them came from the Chi­nese main­land or Tai­wan.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies also have been jump­ing on the NBA’s mar­ket­ing train for in­ter­na­tional and US mar­kets by do­ing na­tional or re­gional deals with the NBA in the US.

For ex­am­ple, PEAK, a ma­jor Chi­nese shoe man­u­fac­turer, first es­tab­lished home-sta­dium spon­sor­ship with the Rock­ets at the end of 2005 and still main­tains that re­la­tion­ship to­day. PEAK signed a spon­sor­ship with NBA China for the first time in 2007. Ac­cord­ing to its com­pany web­site, PEAK ranks third in NBA en­dorse­ments and it has had con­tracts with nine NBA play­ers to mar­ket their shoes through the years.

An­other re­cent ex­am­ple is ZTE USA’s deal with the Rock­ets. On Oc­to­ber 5, 2013, the team and Dal­las-based ZTE USA, the US branch of the Shen­zhen­based Chi­nese cell­phone man­u­fac­turer, an­nounced their new part­ner­ship, mak­ing ZTE the of­fi­cial smart­phone of the Rock­ets.

Cheng Lixin, CEO of ZTE USA, said dur­ing a phone in­ter­view that af­ter 15 years in the US, the com­pany now wants to be a leader in the US smart­phone mar­ket­place and hopes to build its brand aware­ness by go­ing with the Rock­ets.

“We are mon­i­tor­ing and re­view­ing the num­bers and we will com­pare the pre­sea­son and af­ter-sea­son data. I am con­fi­dent we will ad­vance to be the No 3 in mar­ket shares in the US from our cur­rent No 4 po­si­tion by year 2016,” Cheng said.

Ac­cord­ing to Cheng, the par­ent com­pany ZTE Mo­bile signed a new mul­ti­year mar­ket­ing part­ner­ship with NBA China within two weeks of its Rock­ets’ deal an­nounce­ment, mak­ing ZTE the firstever pre­sent­ing part­ner of an NBA game in China.

“It’s a well-thought strat­egy within the ZTE,” said Cheng. ZTE USA will soon launch a new prod­uct called “Rock­ets Phone’’ with more ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy, and ZTE Mo­bile will also de­velop an NBA de­vice in China, all in an ef­fort “to re­po­si­tion and re­fresh our brand”.

What­ever the undis­closed num­ber Cheng is see­ing, ZTE USA seems to be quite sat­is­fied with the Rock­ets part­ner­ship; both par­ties re­cently re­newed the agree­ment for an­other year while be­ing less than half a year into their first year.

Even some Chi­nese gov­ern­men­tal agencies look to the NBA for pro­mo­tion in the US. In 2013-2014 sea­son, the Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Tourism De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion con­tracted with the San An­to­nio Spurs to pro­mote its tourism by hav­ing “Travel to Bei­jing” ads dis­played dur­ing its 30 home games. In mid-March, the com­mis­sion held a spe­cial pro­mo­tional event when the Spurs played the Utah Jazz. It has been do­ing sim­i­lar pro­mo­tions with the NBA since 2009, ac­cord­ing to the com­mis­sion’s Vice-Chair­man Wang Yue.

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