Whether they watched on TV or came to Doha to cheer in person, football fans from around the world left the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM with a lasting impression of the Official Sponsor brands whose names appeared continually on the electronic boards surrounding every pitch.
Sports has become a preferred way for brands to connect with their audience: it’s the world’s global language. And for brands aiming to raise awareness and sales with a broad reach, sponsorships can be an amazingly effective translator.
International events efficiently connect brands to new consumers in new markets. Even before Hisense became an Official Sponsor of the FIFA World CupTM, millions of fans knew the brand, especially those who own its TVs, refrigerators, dishwashers, or air conditioners. And for millions more consumers in new markets, the brand is now familiar, and even top-of-mind, carrying positive associations with the sport they’re passionate about.
And data shows that sponsoring top tournaments works for Hisense. Major appliance brand awareness grew by 6 percentage points around Hisense’s first FIFA World CupTM tour in 2018 and 4 points around UEFA EURO 2020. Between 2016 and 2021, Hisense nearly doubled its brand awareness to 50%.
But sponsorship is not as simple as associating a brand with the world’s most popular sport. Building powerful and authentic connections with consumers doesn’t happen by chance. As with any team or athlete, a brand’s success with sports marketing requires both careful strategy and many seasons of training. Over decades of exploring, Hisense has developed a unique sports marketing path.
Game, Set, Match
A brand must first determine which sports, leagues, players, teams, arenas, and events will connect with the consumers they want to reach. That means making the right decisions about geographic and demographic goals, keeping ahead of trends, and even deciding which opportunities to avoid—because the wrong partnership can damage a brand by sending audiences the wrong message.
Hisense has played on the sports marketing field for 15 years. In 2008, when Hisense Australia saw an opportunity to secure naming rights for the Australian Open tennis stadium in Melbourne, the brand considered the matter with care.
All of Hisense’s analysis showed the sponsorship would be the right move at the right time—and it was. In 2013, Hisense became the only Chinese brand to sponsor the Australian Open. With Hisense known to Australian tennis fans, the brand now reaches more consumers in the region through other sports. In 2020, Hisense began a three-year sponsorship of Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL), the most popular sport in Australia and New Zealand.
Start Your Engines
Different markets bring different opportunities. In the world of auto racing, Formula 1 makes the most sense to reach European markets. But NASCAR is the right match in the U.S.
After having sparked discussion as a sponsor of the Lotus F1 Team, Hisense jumped on an opportunity in 2015 to become a sponsor of the Red Bull Racing F1 Team, enhancing its brand image in technology and awareness among high-end consumers.
The same year, Hisense became the Official Partner of the Joe Gibbs Racing team in the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series. Sponsoring one of the most popular teams in the second-biggest sports event in the nation rapidly raised Hisense’s profile among potential U.S. consumers. The NASCAR sponsorship helped Hisense quickly establish broad name recognition, reflecting its localization strategy and faith in its channels.
Reaching Younger Fans
The results of Hisense’s powerful bond with football are clear. After sponsoring Hisense’s first FIFA World CupTM tour, consumers’ intent-to-purchase rose 33% for TVs over pre-tournament levels.
And the strategy works at the local level. Supporting the football clubs Leeds United, Paris Saint-Germain, and Internazionale Milano helps heighten consumer awareness and bond with the clubs’ communities in the U.K., France, and Italy.
Today, new audience goals are emerging, and a new sponsorship strategy is emerging with it. Hisense has noted that consumers between 26 and 35 care a lot about price and even more about value, and that they’re rational and pragmatic consumers who seek out advanced technology not for its novelty but for the benefits it offers them. Given the attitudes and attributes of this demographic, e-sports represents a golden opportunity for Hisense to nurture its next-gen consumers.
While firmly established in China and South Korea, e-sports are making greater inroads with European and U.S. audiences. To attend to this trend, Hisense selected Fnatic, an e-sports club based in the U.K., as the best e-sports platform to associate its forward-thinking innovation with consumers who crave Fnatic’s product reviews, video collaborations, and gaming content such as the “BFF Challenge” video series.
With both traditional sports and e-sports, sponsorships help Hisense’s brand learn about consumer demands that drive its heavy investment in research and development to upgrade TV technology, such as enabling real-time frame filling, motion enhancement, and noise reduction, and stabilizing and smoothing high-speed action onscreen.
For Hisense, it is clear that a sports marketing strategy can be an effective aid to brand building. Fifteen years into Hisense’s sports-marketing strategy, the games, teams, players, and fans keep growing, and its commitment to supporting them grows with it. The strategy of sports sponsorship has helped its brand keep pace with changing technology, keep connecting with new and established communities—and keep winning new fans every year.