This year, more than two thirds of the top 20 from Campaign’s Top 1000 Brands ranking contributed heavily to sponsorships in sports and entertainment as a means to engage audiences. Brands such as Samsung, Nestle, Nike and Sony all activate major global partnerships with the biggest sports properties in the world, including the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics, Tennis Grand slams or Golfing Majors, and leverage that association across all communication channels.
Of the top six brands in the China rankings, only Apple and Chanel can be described as having very limited involvement in the sponsorship space in China or globally – and Samsung’s growing dominance over Apple across Asia may suggest the US tech prodigy might have played a rare poor move
Is there a correlation between sponsorship dollars and brand rankings? We think so.
Sports and Entertainment marketing and sponsorship in China today is a rapidly growing market. One of the reasons is that in an increasingly connected and cynical marketplace, consumers are looking for more relevance and authenticity beyond traditional advertising. Sponsorships offer brands an authentic, deeply relevant connection to the passions of fans.
Compared with Hong Kong, Singapore and other established APAC regions, the China sponsorship landscape still remains an uncontested space with plenty of room to grow. For example while brands such as HSBC (coming in at 13 in Hong Kong and 88 for APAC) invest heavily in their big-name annual golf championship series in Shanghai, other brands such as Sina (ranking at 31 in China and 467 for APAC) are establishing themselves in other fast rising sports to connect to similar high net worth audiences such as the China Open Tennis championships. At the same time, local domestic leagues with large fan bases across China are providing big opportunities for any brands that want to get in early today. Currently the top sports in China are Soccer, Basketball and Badminton in terms of popularity. In the case of Soccer, there are a number of significant global properties such as the Euro Cup and World Cup, Champions League as well as popular national leagues in England, Spain and Italy that are strongly supported in China. Similarly Basketball, on the back of the success of Yao Ming in the NBA, continues to generate incredible domestic interest in China’s own basketball leagues.
Overall we predict that as China’s sponsorship landscape continues to grow significantly year on year, more top ranked brands will invest more both locally and globally to garner more consumer awareness and engagement with their audience. New forms of media, new broadcast platforms and globalization of content has afforded many second and third tier sports, leagues and franchises a forum to showcase their product. So whilst “the size of the pie” is growing it is also being cut into more pieces, with more and more brand sponsors looking for share of voice. The race is clearly on in China for branded sponsorship in sports and entertainment.