China’s businesses get top billing at World Cup after team flops | Qatar World Cup 2022

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – China may not send a team to Qatar, but Chinese companies will be top sponsors for the 2022 World Cup.

Chinese brands are the biggest sponsors of this month’s tournament — surpassing even American companies including iconic brands such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Budweiser.

Chinese sponsors have spent $1.395 billion on the Nov. 20-Dec. 18 contest, more than the $1.1 billion spent by U.S. companies, according to Global Data, a London-based data analytics and consulting firm. Dollar.

Broken down by year, China’s sponsorship was worth US$207 million per year, while Qatar and the US were worth US$134 million and US$129 million, respectively, the data showed.

The dominance of Chinese companies in the competition reflects the desire of their brands to expand their visibility abroad to match their growing size and influence.

The rise of Chinese sponsors also echoes President Xi Jinping’s dream of transforming China, which debuted at the World Cup in 2002, into a soccer powerhouse with ambitious plans and targets such as increasing the number of schools with soccer fields tenfold by 2025.

While the four Chinese sponsors of the 2022 World Cup — Wanda Group, vivo, Mengniu Dairy and Hisense — are relatively unknown abroad, they are large corporations with billion-dollar revenues and thousands of employees.

Wanda Group, a multi-industry conglomerate founded in 1988, and Mengniu, one of China’s largest dairy producers, have both appeared on the Fortune 500 list several times.

Wanda advertises on the sidelines of the football field.
Chinese companies such as Wanda Group are among FIFA’s biggest sponsors [File: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]

Singapore-based branding expert and consultant Martin Roll told Al Jazeera, “The World Cup is applicable to Chinese companies both abroad and within China because football has a huge following among Chinese audiences.”

“It’s a strong indication that these Chinese brands are making a difference globally and showing Chinese audiences that they’re important. Being a World Cup sponsor and marketing partner is just a handful of brands that can afford it, so being a part of it is a A testament to the aspirations of Chinese brands.”

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Paul Temporal, a branding expert at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, said Chinese companies hope the association with the polished game will help them shed negative perceptions of the “Made in China” label.

“Sports sponsorship allows Chinese brands to connect with global audiences, allowing them to share a universal love for the sporting experience in an emotional setting. Football crosses all cultural boundaries and offers enormous global reach,” Temporal told Al Jazeera.

“Chinese brands have learned from their Western counterparts that despite the high opportunity cost of access to the world’s best events, sports sponsorship does deliver long-term results for the brand owner and the country. Brands that go global are brand ambassadors in China, if globally Success in terms of market share can have a positive impact on a nation’s brand image.”

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Qatar’s largest Chinese sponsor so far is Wanda Group, one of FIFA’s seven official partners – the highest level of sponsorship – alongside Coca-Cola, Adidas, Hyundai, Kia, Qatar Airways, QatarEnergy and Visa.

The Beijing-based conglomerate, which invests in real estate, entertainment, media, manufacturing and financial services, has committed $850 million as part of a 15-year deal covering all World Cup events through 2030, according to Global Data.

Vivo, a consumer electronics company based in the southern city of Dongguan, is expected to spend $450 million as part of a six-year deal that includes the 2017 Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup.

Hohhot, Inner Mongolia-based Mengniu and Qingdao-based electronics maker Hisense have pledged about $60 million and $35 million, respectively.

“Many Chinese companies have achieved global growth by acquiring foreign brands. Lenovo and Haier have also adopted this approach, in addition to their own brand building,” Carlos Torelli, a professor of marketing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told The Peninsula TV, he was referring to popular Chinese personal computer and consumer electronics brands.

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“It makes it easier to break into the global market with a well-known brand. However, many other Chinese brands are trying to establish their own brand, and an event like the World Cup is perfect to create awareness among a large audience. Attending these events can Facilitate future market expansion.”

Solar panel maker Yingli Solar became China’s first World Cup sponsor at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while Chinese companies began to shine at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

When leading brands such as Sony, Emirates and Johnson & Johnson pulled out of FIFA in 2014 and 2015 amid corruption allegations in Russia and Qatar’s World Cup bids, Chinese companies filled the funding gap.

Shortly after Wanda Group signed a huge sponsorship deal in 2016, company founder Wang Jianlin said the controversies were an “opportunity” for the Chinese company, which may never have had the opportunity before to support the event “even if we wanted to”.

Wang Jianlin
Wanda Group founder Wang Jianlin describes controversy surrounding FIFA as ‘opportunity’ for Chinese brands [File: Thomas Peter/Reuters]

No fewer than seven Chinese companies sponsored the 2018 race, spending an estimated $835 million — far more than American and Russian brands.

Chinese companies have maintained a strong showing in 2021 at the Copa America, South America’s biggest football competition, taking three of the four official sponsors.

After several big sponsors, including Mastercard and Diageo, pulled out amid controversy over COVID-19’s health risks to players, Kuaishou, TCL Technology and Sinovac found themselves shouldering most of the sponsorship duties.

Ahead of the 2022 Qatar Olympics, Chinese brands have once again demonstrated that they are less willing to engage in the human rights debate than their corporate counterparts elsewhere.

Unlike Budweiser, Adidas, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, the Chinese sponsors have not expressed support for the Human Rights Watch campaign, which is calling on FIFA and Qatar to compensate migrant workers and their families who were killed and injured during the run-up to the World Cup.

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The Qatari government said it had made “substantial progress” on labor reforms and would continue to work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to “ensure that these reforms are far-reaching and effective”. Qatari officials have also denied allegations of corruption in the World Cup bid process.

“Many global brands are careful not to get involved in political debates about their endorsements, so they may be more reluctant to join as sponsors,” Rolle said.

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However, Nigel Currie, director of sports marketing and sponsorship agency NC Partnership, said major sponsors from around the world ultimately chose to stick with the event because of the huge business opportunity involved.

“There is controversy surrounding the hosting of the World Cup in Qatar. However, will Coca-Cola pull out and risk Pepsi getting involved?” Curry told Al Jazeera.

“Will Visa abandon their position and allow Mastercard to come back? The motor vehicle category is highly competitive and any number of global car companies are keen to take over Hyundai-Kia. The same argument applies to several other product categories. A simple fact Yes, World Cup deals were done over several World Cups to exclude competitors and provide major brands with exclusive and elite opportunities to reach billions of people around the world.”

Josh Gardner, chief executive and co-founder of China-focused consultancy Kung Fu Data, said he expects Chinese brands to grow internationally as they “find ways to establish a foothold outside their home country”. constantly rising.

“This is no different from the parallel trend of Chinese brands signing sponsorship deals with Hollywood,” Gardner told Al Jazeera, referring to product placements involving Vivo, instant messenger Tencent QQ and e-commerce company JD.com.

“Think back to the many Marvel and DC movies with labels like vivo and QQ, and JD logos on imaginary skyscrapers on the big screen.”

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