The World Cup in China
The World Cup is in full swing and China couldn’t be more excited. Although the Chinese team as only managed to qualify once, China is by far one of the biggest footballing nations in the world and with the newly appointed Chairman, Xi Jinping, often referred to as a “football fan,” China is set to profit from the World Cup both at home and abroad.
Overview – World Cup in China
In 2002, China had its first and only appearance at the World Cup. They were internationally embarrassed, suffering total defeat by not winning a single group match. Since their first appearance, China has been working hard to create a winning formula on and off the pitch. Most notably, China has become a power house for producing World Cup memorabilia and Chinese companies, like Yingli Solar, are becoming top sponsors for the international games.
China is also making strides to improve their talent pool by creating massive football academies. The most notable academy is the Evergrande International Football School in Guangdong, which has more than 50 pitches and 2,400 students. The academy is the brain child of multi-billionaire and property tycoon Xu Jiayin, the owner of Guangzhou Evergrande FC. According to Telegraph, “The tycoon, who reportedly splashed around £115 million on the academy’s palm-lined university-style campus, is not shy about his desire to revolutionize Chinese football.”
Jack Ma, an Internet billionaire known as China’s Steve Jobs, is also betting on a bright football future. He bought a 50 per cent stake in Guangzhou Evergrande, declaring: “Football is something that represents happiness.”
The academy opened in 2012 and the first students should be ready to play on china’s national team in 5-10 years, possibly helping China qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. But with their pitch dreams on hold for another World Cup or two, China is not sitting on the sidelines waiting for opportunities to benefit from the World Cup. Both at home and abroad China has been in a marketing fever capitalizing on the economic boost provided by this worldwide sporting phenomenon.
Marketing in China – World Cup in China
The World Cup marketing in China has been non-stop for the last month. Brands like Harbin Beer, Snow Beer, Tsingtao Beer, and other brands have been actively running TVC’s and online campaigns looking to cash-in on the football craze. But beer companies are not the only ones looking to profit from this World Cup.
“The World Cup will help bolster investor sentiment and boost sales of products like lotteries and snacks. It will boost the share prices of these companies,” said Tony Wu, an analyst with a Shanghai-based private equity fund.
Snacks, beers, TVs, and lotteries seem to be the big winners at home. According to Asian Review, “Since the end of May, electric appliance mass retailers in China have been promoting the latest TVs in “special World Cup sales” at their stores and on their websites.” Online retailers, like Tmall, have also been joining in on the fun. Some retailers have been offering special discounts and sales throughout the tournament.
One of the most popular and well played advertisements has been Nike’s “The Last Game.”
But the fun doesn’t stop with the major marketing campaigns by well-known brands. Locals have been looking to make a quick buck by selling fake doctor’s notes. The Independent reported, “Three days before the tournament, auction websites have been inundated with fraudulent sick notes with sellers hoping to capitalize on workers’ desperation to watch matches.”
Local Bars have also joined the football fever by staying open late into the night and offering special discounts and menus during the games. And too top it all off, baby pandas have been predicting matches. According to SCMP, “China has come up with its own answer to Germany’s former soccer oracle Paul the Octopus – a group of baby pandas to predict the outcomes of matches for the World Cup in Brazil.”
Marketing outside of China – World Cup in China
With so much happening at home, it is easy to forget about China’s presence in Brazil. That is until you turn on a match and see Yingli’s bright blue sideline banners. According to Xinhua, “China’s major solar energy company Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. will take advantage of the 2014 Brazil World Cup to promote its brand. Miao Liansheng, chairman of Yingli Green Energy, said the World Cup marketing campaign will be a huge driver of its business growth with market penetration by renewable energy is at low levels.”
Although Yingli is the most visible Chinese brand present, it is not the only one making money in Brazil. According to The Street, “A supplier contract for mascot products including Fuleco stuffed toys, figurines, slippers, car accessories, key chains and paper plates was awarded to Kayford Holdings, a Hong Kong subsidiary of the China state-owned conglomerate Landward Industrial.
Landward expects this year’s profits will beat what mascot manufacturers earned from past World Cup events, a company official named Li Hong recently told state media. “We can set the price ourselves,” he said. A stuffed Fuleco “toy is priced at US$12.99, which means our profits will double or even triple.”
Although Landward won the official mascot contract, other manufacturers are providing supplies that fans can’t seem to get enough of this World Cup. Fans that want to be broadcast to the world have to standout and one of the best ways to standout in the crowd is by wearing a brightly colored wig. According to the China Daily, “Thanks to the World Cup, orders for sport wigs have gone up by 20 percent in the past two months,” said Liang Xiaopeng, a spokesman at Jifa Group Holdings Co Ltd, a 60-year-old hair product and garment manufacturer in Qingdao’s Jimo city.”
The future of the World Cup in China
The future of the World Cup in China is bright manufacturers and suppliers are happily winning contracts and fans are buying up fake doctor’s notes, but China still wants more. When Qatar won the 2022 World Cup bid, China criticized FIFA.
According to Time, “Wei has also made statements that appear aimed at influencing the 2022 decision, openly backing the U.S. bid and taking unsportsmanlike potshots at Qatar. “Qatar is so hot,” he told Titan Sports. “What’s the population of that country? How can they fill their venues with people?” Wei Di, the new head of the Chinese Football Association, was hoping that FIFA would award the 2022 bid to the US, opening the doors for China to win the 2026 bid.
With Qatar winning the bid in 2022, China may have to wait until 2030 before it can host the World Cup in China. But until then, China will continue to win contracts, build its national team, and pack bars every four years. Two things are clear, China wants the World Cup in China and marketers are happy to use this global event to sell products and increase brand recognition.
World Cup in China on Weibo
Below SmithStreet put together a infographic about the World Cup trending on Weibo: