Chinese electronics giant Hisense appears to have gotten its money's worth out of its sponsorship of the Euro 2016 soccer championship.
Hisense signed as the 10th global partner for the UEFA EURO 2016 finals on Jan. 14, joining top brands Adidas, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, Continental, Hyundai-Kia, McDonald's, Orange, SOCAR and Turkish Airlines to complete the tournament's sponsorship program.
Hisense kept its sponsorship fee a secret, while reports said it spent 370 million yuan (about 50 million euros) for its debut in the top European soccer event, a sum amounting to about 25 percent of last year's net profit.
As the first-ever Chinese company to endorse the 56-year-old tournament, Hisense announced that its Euro 2016 exposure in China alone meant that returns exceed its investment after only the group stage.
"It has been the most successful brand marketing in the company's 47 years of history," said the company's brand director Zhu Shuqin.
Hisense said its logo appeared not only on the LED screen on site in the 36 group matches, but also on the tickets and the interview backdrops.
"Hisense's logo was caught by the cameras during the matches and seen by millions of TV viewers all over the world," Zhu said.
In China, Hisense's logo exposure through the live broadcast of China's Central Television amounts to some 300 million yuan worth of advertisement on TV, Zhu said, adding that 35 million Chinese fans followed the tournament and watched the matches on TV.
Pleased with the results of their sponsorship at Euro 2016, Zhu revealed that the company may go on to sponsor the 2018 Russia World Cup while its endorsement for other UEFA national team competitions will run until the end of 2017. The competitions include the European Qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Futsal Euro 2016, the 2017 UEFA European U-21 Championship and UEFA Women's Euro 2017.
European soccer's ruling body UEFA also seems happy to have Hisense on board.
Guy-Laurent Epstein, the marketing director of UEFA Events SA, told Xinhua that the sponsorship "is something between football and the Chinese brand. As we provide a great commercial platform, I am sure that this sponsorship will give Hisense a great opportunity to grow their brand in Europe and internationally."
"We look forward to working closely together with them in a mutually beneficial partnership that will also further promote the best of European football to millions of fans in China," he added.
While Hisense added the first-ever Chinese flavor to the European Championship, other Chinese enterprises are also seeing potentially enormous returns from sponsoring high profile sports events.
In December last year, Alibaba E-Auto, an "internet car" brand owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, reached an eight-year presenting partnership of the Club World Cup with soccer's world governing body FIFA.
Alibaba thus became the first Chinese company to have presenting partnership with the FIFA tournament.
Months later, Chinese real estate and entertainment giant Wanda Group inked a partnership deal with FIFA which runs through the 2030 World Cup. The contract grants Wanda the highest level of sponsorship rights in the next four FIFA World Cup editions.
But Wanda's ambition did not stop at soccer. It also ventured into basketball, becoming the exclusive partner of the Federation of International Basketball (FIBA) for their worldwide sponsorship, including the sale of licensing rights and global marketing.
"It was not a mindless splurge. We are buying our way out because the key international sports industry resources, including the marketing rights and broadcast rights can only be redistributed in this way," said Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin. Last year, Wanda nailed a 20 percent stake in Madrid Atletico at 45 million euros, merged with World Triathlon Corp. (WTC) for 585 million euros, and acquired Swiss sports marketing group Infront Sports & Media for 1.05 billion euros.
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