China scores big-time at Cup

So­lar en­ergy com­pany shows its colours at tour­na­ment sta­di­ums

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

BEI­JING: China did not qual­ify for the World Cup, but the coun­try is still mak­ing an ap­pear­ance in South Africa.

An am­bi­tious Chi­nese so­lar com­pany, the coun­try’s first World Cup spon­sor, has placed ad­ver­tis­ing in all the sta­di­ums in a bid to give its brand a world­wide boost.

Yingli Green En­ergy’s spon­sor­ship deal al­lows it to show its logo of Yingli So­lar, in Chi­nese and English, on elec­tronic perime­ter-boards at all 64 games of the World Cup.

The Yingli slo­gan ap­pears for 30 sec­onds at a time, to­talling eight min­utes in each game. Yingli also has the right to show­case its so­lar prod­ucts near the sta­di­ums.

“The World Cup is a very good plat­form that can im­me­di­ately boost our brand aware­ness in ev­ery po­ten­tial mar­ket around the globe,” said com­pany vice-pres­i­dent Ja­son Liu.

It is a bold move by the New York Stock Ex­change-listed so­lar panel maker, based in the city of Baod­ing, south­west of Bei­jing. The com­pany is not well-known in China. Set up in 1998 with nearly 7 000 em­ploy­ees now, Yingli de­signs, makes and sells so­lar pan­els. It said its main mar­kets were over­seas, with Europe ac­count­ing for more than 50 per­cent.

Liu said core mar­kets also hap­pened to be big foot­ball coun­tries, such as Ger­many, Italy, Spain and France, plus the US.

Liu de­clined to say how much Yingli was spend­ing on the spon­sor­ship deal, but said the mar­ket­ing bud­get for the World Cup equalled just a small part of the com­pany’s an­nual rev­enue, which reached 7.25 bil­lion yuan (R8.4b) last year. Chi­nese me­dia have re­ported the spon­sor­ship was cost­ing at least $20 mil­lion.

While most of Fifa’s spon­sors are con­sumer goods mak­ers, such as McDon­ald’s and Bud­weiser, Yingli is the first re­new­able en­ergy spon­sor. An­a­lysts said so­lar pan­els and soc­cer may sound like an un­usual com­bi­na­tion, but the spon­sor­ship could work in terms of build­ing brand cred­i­bil­ity and cater­ing to in­vestors.

“Cer­tainly ev­ery­one in China, if not ev­ery­one around the world, now knows a com­pany like that ex­ists,” said Stu­art James, head of Asia-Pa­cific for He­lios Part­ners, a sports mar­ket­ing firm.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies have spent hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in spon­sor­ing in­ter­na­tional sports events in re­cent years to go with their am­bi­tions to ex­pand over­seas. More than 30 Chi­nese fir ms part­nered with the Bei­jing Olympic Games, in­clud­ing PC maker Len­ovo as a global Olympic spon­sor. And Chi­nese elec­tronic gad­get maker Aigo spon­sors the McLaren-Mercedes For­mula One team and Manch­ester United in the English Premier League.

James said more Chi­nese com­pa­nies will step into in­ter­na­tional sports spon­sor­ships, but “they need to be ac­ti­vat­ing so much more than just hav­ing signs on the field”, he said.

Liu said Yingli also planned to ex­pand its mar­ket to Africa. The ap­pear­ance of a re­new­able en­ergy com­pany will dif­fer from the usual Chi­nese busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties in Africa that are dom­i­nated by sta­te­owned oil com­pa­nies or in­fra­struc­ture builders. – Sapa-AP

PIC­TURE: AP

TAR­GET MAR­KET: Ger­many head coach Joachim Loew, front, walks over the pitch as Ger­man play­ers stretch dur­ing a team train­ing ses­sion near an advertisement panel for Yingli So­lar at the Su­per Sta­dium in At­teridgeville, Pre­to­ria. China did not qual­ify for the World Cup, but the coun­try is still mak­ing an ap­pear­ance in South Africa as an am­bi­tious Chi­nese so­lar com­pany, the coun­try's first World Cup spon­sor, has placed ad­ver­tis­ing in all the tour­na­ment sta­di­ums.

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