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Chinese companies lead in sponsoring Euro 2020

By CHENG YU in Beijing and XIE CHUANJIAO in Qingdao, Shandong | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-07-15 09:53
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Hisense logo flashes on a billboard lining the pitch boundary during a Euro 2020 match. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Accounting for one-third of the 12 top-tier sponsors at the UEFA European soccer championship, or Euro 2020, China has become the country owning the most of the sponsoring companies of the event, which was postponed from last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and ended on Monday.

Four Chinese companies-home appliance firm Hisense, payment platform Alipay, smartphone maker Vivo and short video application TikTok-were among official sponsors for this year's championship. The Netherlands followed with three of its companies supporting the tournament.

Jerry Liu, the vice-president of global marketing for Hisense, said the company gained the most core resources in block ads and score pop-ups in terms of rights activation. Its sub-brands Rongsheng, Kelon, gorenje, Toshiba and Regza were all authorized to appear in sideline advertisements during matches at the championship.

The Qingdao, Shandong province-based company, for the first time, linked the intellectual property of Euro 2020 with marketing activities to drive product sales. It launched at the beginning of this year the U7 TV series customized for Euro 2020 in thousands of its retail terminals globally.

"Sports marketing, especially for world-class events, is an important method for brands from both home and abroad to expand their global influence," said Zhao He, senior vice-president of Social Touch, a Chinese marketing and branding firm.

The television and home appliance manufacturer claimed that from January to June, the sales revenue of Hisense U7 and U8 TVs increased 209 percent year-on-year in six European countries. The sales revenue from high-end flat-door refrigerators in five Western European countries increased 160.1 percent year-on-year.

Wang Peng, an associate professor at the Hillhouse Research Institute of Renmin University of China in Beijing, said, "Chinese companies are actively carrying out soccer marketing, which fully demonstrates their growing competitiveness and their strong desire to better serve the world."

Hisense has so far set up branches and offices in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and other European countries, expanding local sales by cooperating with Amazon, Euronics and Electonic-Partner. The company sponsored the 2018 FIFA World Cup and secured a deal for the 2022 event as well.

To meet overseas market demand, Hisense signed an agreement with the Slovenian government and planned to produce 2.5 million TVs for it this year. It also adjusted the regular 1200 spins of the drying washing machine to 1400 for UK to make laundry dry faster due to high local humidity levels.

"The sponsorship is also a barometer of the changes in the global industrial and economic situation. Japanese and South Korean companies used to be major sponsors of such international sports events, but their presence has decreased, and even disappeared, in recent years," Wang said.

The Economic Observer newspaper said Japan contributed at least three sponsors to every World Cup from 1992 to 2004. In the 2016 UEFA European Championship, Japanese companies were absent from top-level sponsorship.

"For Hisense, sponsoring the world's top sports events is not just an advertising and marketing activity. We hope to move the company into a higher level in terms of talents, research and development, manufacturing and management," said Hisense President Jia Shaoqian.

Zhou Nan, secretary-general of the home appliances branch at the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, said: "In order to seize changing opportunities in the post-pandemic era, Chinese home appliance companies need to deploy in the overseas market."

Last year, Hisense reported 140.9 billion yuan ($21.75 billion) in sales revenue, which marked an 11.1 percent increase year-on-year. The overseas revenue was 54.8 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 18.6 percent.

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