BEIJING: The two-way traffic between brands and football clubs in Asia and Europe continues to develop with Huawei and Unilever the latest to sign high-profile sponsorship deals with leading clubs.

Chinese telcoms business Huawei has struck a three-year premium sponsor and official mobile partnership deal with Italian club AC Milan to sit alongside existing tie-ups with Spanish football league La Liga and with the German club Borussia Dortmund. 

The arrangement, reported Asia Sponsorship News, also sees Huawei acquire the rights to use AC Milan's logo and player images for its promotional activities in Italy and Asia.

And Campaign Asia-Pacific reported that FMCG giant Unilever was to become Official Personal Care and Laundry Partner to English Premier League champions Manchester United in nine Asian countries, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mynamar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Several Unilever products, including Omo, Clear and Rexona, will carry the club's crest as the company continues to spread its 'Dirt is Good' message across the region while encouraging outdoor play.

The role of the UEFA Champion's League is important, as Heineken confirmed recently by extending its sponsorship of the competition out to the 2017/18 football season. Tim Ellerton, the brand's global sponsorship manager, told Marketing Week that the tournament was now the leading annual sport in the world, viewed by a cumulative audience of 4.2bn.

He added that over the past eight years it had become "the largest platform for the Heineken brand and awareness has grown to 60% among viewers … In two thirds of our markets the only exposure Heineken gets is through the tournament."

Such exposure is attractive not only to brands, as Scottish club Celtic is using its presence among Europe's footballing elite to seek out links with Chinese companies. Chief executive Peter Lawwell told the Daily Record that he had visited China three times this year with the aim of "getting the Celtic name out there – whether that is through social, grassroots projects, whether it is academies here or sponsorship.

"For Chinese companies looking to establish themselves in Europe, they get a bit of profile," he explained, and the same was true for Chinese businesses who were buying brands to take back home.

Data sourced from Asia Sponsorship News, Campaign Asia-Pacific, Marketing Week, Daily Record