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Driving World Cup success

By Li fusheng | China Daily | Updated: 2014-06-30 07:02

 Driving World Cup success

Dongfeng Yueda Kia is offering car buyers the chance to watch the World Cup in person and organizing amateur soccer teams in China. Photos provided to China Daily

Sponsorship, special events ride the tide of soccer passion

As the month-long World Cup enthralls millions of Chinese football fans, automakers and component manufacturers have a range of plans to join the surge.

One of the most common moves is to sponsor a national team as a good performance in the World Cup means vastly greater exposure.

Though it sounds like gambling, sponsorship attracts automakers known for their business sophistication.

Among others,Mercedes-Benz has scored with the German team.

It even interacted online with BMW to cheer the German footballers on when it fought against the Portuguese on June 16.

On the same night, Audi invited fans to watch the game on TV after it unveiled its new model RS7 in Beijing.

But the luckiest automaker could be Chery, sponsor of the Chilean team that made it to the knockout stage with an almost-unbelievable victory over Spain.

Auto analyst Luo Lan said it will help Chery lift its profile in Chile and other South American countries.

Hyundai offered something tangible before the World Cup even started.

Beijing Hyundai offered those who test-drove and purchased a Hyundai in April and May the chance to watch the FIFA matches in Brazil though a lucky draw.

From May to July buyers received a World-Cup themed souvenir. "Automakers can build a more proactive image by associating with sports events, an image closer to potential customers' emotional needs," said Wu Zhoutao, deputy general manager at Beijing Hyundai.

Joint venture Dongfeng Yueda Kia is offering not only tickets to watch the World Cup, but also organizing football matches nationwide with the winning team heading off to compete in Brazil with similar teams from other countries. It is also a title partner of CCTV's coverage.

"Our campaign is mainly for brand awareness rather than immediate sales results," said Jiang Yubin, a senior sales manager of the company.

"Like the goal of similar events, we just hope that people remember Kia when they want to buy a car."

Components and parts manufacturers are also seizing the opportunity to woo football fans.

Continental Tires started its marketing campaign in China before the football carnival kicked off.

"We see great enthusiasm in Chinese football fans, and the marketing campaign for them marks a milestone for our local strategy," said Jay Dhillon, general manager of Continental Tires Trading (Shanghai) Co Ltd.

"China is one of the most important markets for us and we're keen to continue our global success here to further strengthen the emotional bond between our brand and Chinese consumers."

To highlight its sponsorship, the tire manufacturer is offering a FIFA limited edition in the Chinese market, the ContiMaxContact MC5.

Continental Tires and its distributors are also inviting fans across the country to watch football games together. Famous football stars will be invited to watch the finals with fans so that they can cheer for their favorite teams together.

The company is also involved in the Asian Cup set for 2015, the first tire manufacturer to sponsor a top Asian football tournament.

"The decision is based on a consistent global brand positioning and highlights both the regional commitment and our passion for football," said Antonio Lopes de Seabra, a senior executive at Continental.

Automakers tend to spend a lot on sales campaigns relating to sports, especially world-class events, as it is an effective way to increase their brand awareness, said auto analyst Zhang Shaohua in an interview with news portal

Zhang is not alone. A poll at indicates nearly 51 percent of respondents are positive about the effects of World Cup campaigns and 33 percent said they would like to have more details about promotional events they noticed during the games.


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