Re-thinking sports marketing now that fans are in charge
The first week of April has news out of China with announcements in fighting sports and rugby sponsorships as well as a new backer for the Indonesian Masters golf tournament.
The news blog MMA Weekly reports that the promotion company Ultimate Fighting Championship is negotiating a deal to hold an event at the Venetian Macao hotel. The company has been trying to tap into the Chinese market for several years by opening office space there and promoting local athletes.
The effort has been encouraging; the fighter Zhang Tiequan managed to pick up some 100,000 followers on his social media site after his UFC debut appearance in Australia in 2011.
Organizer Lorenzo Fertitta said getting into China is a long term project but it’s worth the effort because of the large potential that the country represents.
“It’s a huge market,” he told Yahoo! Sports, “…and there is a long-standing martial arts background that the country has from a cultural standpoint.”
Fertitta said the National Basketball Association realized this and has profited with star athletes such as Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin. The UFC hired former NBA executive Marc Fischer to run its Asian operations.
An American outfit set up in 1993, the UFC represents most of the top-rated fighters and hosts events around the world. The sport of mixed martial arts has been gaining popularity steadily over the last few years and is broadcast in 22 languages in some 150 countries on pay per view and mainstream media outlets.
In rugby news, the Chinese IT firm Huawei has signed a two-year deal as main sponsor of the Canberra Raiders NRL team. The Sidney Morning Herald reported the contract was worth USD $1.77 million overall with an extension clause until 2015.
Under terms of the agreement, the company’s logo will be displayed on the team’s home and away jersey until the end of the 2013 season.
Huawei Australia chairman John Lord said the sponsorship would help build brand awareness in projects such as mobile handsets and enterprise IT.
“With Huawei’s 140,000 staff,” he said, “it’s safe to say that the Raiders have just gained 140,000 new fans around the world.”
The week rounds off with good news for Indonesian golf fans. The financial services company CIMB Niaga will become title sponsor of the Asian Tour’s Indonesian Masters. This follows a deal made last fall with the industrial logistics company PNTS ( Pelayaran Nasional Tanjungriau Service) agreeing to provide USD $750,000 as the tournament’s presenting sponsor.
This year’s event will feature players such as Lee Westwood, Michael Campbell and Thongchai Jaidee competing against the best players from the Asian Tour. The 2012 CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters will be held from 19th April to 22nd April at the Royal Jakarta Golf Club.