ZHONGSHAN, CHINA: Though the recent FIFA World Cup drew attention and ad-spend from some of the world’s biggest brands, it’s a little-known Chinese kitchen brand which is seeing huge buzz as a result of its unorthodox marketing strategy to leverage the tournament.

Vatti, an oven manufacturer from the southern city of Zhongshan, has been the toast of Chinese social media after it promised product refunds if France won the coveted trophy.

Customers who purchased a set of “champion products” during the tournament – which included a gas hob and extraction fan valued at around US$747 / 5000 yuan – could get a full refund on their purchase so long as France won the World Cup.

The rest, as they say, is history: France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the final.

Though Vatti must now pay up, the buzz generated may be what the brand needs to crack the wider Chinese market – the brand’s strategy was the topic of more than 90,000 chats on China’s micro-messaging service, Weibo.

According to Chinese financial news outlet Caixing, Vatti may need to pay as much as US$11.8m in refunds – small change compared to the US$300m that Mengniu, a Chinese dairy company, paid to become an official sponsor of this year’s tournament.

Although China’s national team did not qualify, Chinese brands have been quick to invest in visibility around the event: seven signed on as sponsors after other brands pulled out due to fears of potential reputational damage through association with FIFA’s high-profile corruption scandals.

According to statements by the company, the stunt has had a positive effect on business: retail sales were up 20% from the previous month, with online sales jumping 30%, it claimed earlier this month.

It classified the refunds as “controllable spending” that wouldn’t affect the company’s bottom line, and would only account for around 10% of total sales revenue during the World Cup period.

Sourced from South China Morning Post, Caixing, Quartz; additional content by WARC staff