Sport offers a unique opportunity for brands aiming to connect with Chinese consumers as the country’s leaders aim to create a domestic sports industry worth $850bn over the next five years and achieve cultural relevance on the global stage.

It’s a bold vision, says Ajay Jilka, business director at Culture Group, writing in the current issue of Admap (topic: creating a sports sponsorship framework), and one that heralds a new era in sports marketing.

“We are seeing growing interest in sports sponsorship as a platform to support the brand building of Chinese brands (Huawei, Hisense, ZTE, Vivo) as well as international brands (Nike, Adidas, Unilever, KFC), all of which have signed significant partnerships with rights holders inside of China,” he notes.

It’s part of a long-term process that began with the award of the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing. Domestic brands were able to use these as a platform to seek global legitimacy, while for international brands they were an opportunity to enter a fast-growing market; agencies set up local offices to service partners.

Since then, government policy has promoted grassroots sports and the result, says Jilka, has been “a tidal wave of growth opportunities for sports brands and consumer brands hoping to engage in the lives of young Chinese”.

This has coincided with the arrival of smartphones; the mobile-first behaviour the device has encouraged has changed how sports fans consume sports-related content.

Watching, streaming and sharing has, he says, “led to groundbreaking sports media partnerships to address these needs”.

For example, Tencent acquired the digital rights to NBA programming in China, while the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has signed multiple partnerships with streaming portals, sports websites as well as OTT partners to broadcast their games and live matches.

And now the world’s top sporting events are targeting China and its massive audiences and brands – and not just traditional sports. The Winter Olympics and Asian Games, together with the 2020 League of Legends World Championships, will be taking place in China over the next three years and have already attracted interested from sponsors.

“These events will be every marketer’s dream,” says Jilka, “as hosting deals will reach beyond official rights holders and penetrate mainstream media, offering even more opportunities for brands to engage with their audiences in China through consumer passions for sports and entertainment.”

For more details, read Ajay Jilka’s article in full here: Kicking goals and the rise of the digital athlete: A new decade in China’s sports marketing.

This issue of Admap on creating a sports sponsorship framework features articles by thought leaders from across the globe. WARC subscribers can access a deck summarising the expertise and insights from all our contributors. 

Sourced from Admap