The battle for consumer brand awareness in Hong Kong is dynamic and contentious. To hold consumer attention, many brands raise the stakes with big digital and traditional advertising coverage while also investing significantly to get their story told on earned and social channels. But some of the most heated brand-recognition contests lie on the city’s sports fields via sponsorships.
From a sports and entertainment marketing perspective, many of this year’s Campaign Asia Top 1000 Brands are also the biggest players on the global and domestic sports sponsorship stage. From the top brand names in Hong Kong, 10 of the top 13 companies on Campaign’s 2014 ranking invest heavily in sports sponsorship as a significant communication channel to promote their brands.
Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Nike and J&J are some the world's heaviest investors in sponsorship, as these brands look to turn fan passion into brand passion and build loyalty in an increasingly competitive marketplace. While the majority of these leading brands rely on significant global properties to 'move the dial', many also support the larger global properties with significant local activations. The number-one rated Samsung spends on average USD$9.1 million per quarter across Asia, according to Asia Sponsorship News, on a mix of music, film, cuisine and sports entertainment as well as leveraging appropriate ambassadors such as Jackie Chan.
In Hong Kong specifically, Samsung sponsors Sochi Winter Olympics Broadcast, the Hong Kong Sports Stars Awards, Sport for All Programs, the Hong Kong Olympic Committee and the Barclays Asia Trophy (up until 2012). Also from Asia Sponsorship News figures, Sony spends over $2 million per quarter on tennis, cricket and other branded content sponsorships in the city.
Why sponsorship, and what is the connection between being a top brand and a top sponsor?
Sean Nicholls, president of Octagon Asia Pacific, says sports sponsorships are an ideal solution for brands looking to get the edge on their competitors, “Today brands are looking for meaningful and authentic ways to reach and engage with their audiences, and sports and entertainment sponsorships allow them to do this. Essentially, sports and entertainment marketing aims to connect brands to fans through their passions, and as a result, help brands move from just a name that consumers recognize to a brand that they love.”
With its Western influence, Hong Kong has a traditional interest in high-profile international leagues (English and Spanish Football, UEFA, NBA) and this situation is likely to continue well into the future, particularly with Hong Kong`s positioning as a major regional hub for large multinationals. For next year’s brand rankings, you can expect to see more and more of the top brand names appearing not just in traditional advertising channels, but also in support of all the major sports and entertainment events in Hong Kong.
APPLE V SAMSUNG: How much impact has Samsung’s massive investment in sponsorship across Asia assisted in their move from ‘also ran’ to dominant leader in mobile devices? The numbers below show two starkly different approaches.
Graphics courtesy of Asian Sponsorship News: Quarterly average investment over three years (2011 – 2014)