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How do financial enterprises use sports marketing? A case study of China CITIC Bank and China Open

By Yutang Sports Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 16:18

Over the past 10 years, the financial industry in China has enjoyed booming development. As illustrated in a report released in 2005 by the National Academy of Economic Strategy within the China Academy of Social Science (CASS) and China Fortune Media Group, China’s financial industry’s GVA contributed 4% to China’s GDP, while this contribution increased to 8.44% in 2015. 

During this booming decade, many financial enterprises in China leveraged sports marketing to expand their influence similar to the activities used by other world-class financial giants. Among these enterprises is one of the top 10 banks in China, with China CITIC Bank becoming a big player in the sports marketing arena. A long-term partnership between China CITIC Bank and the China Open (tennis) can be regarded as a typical case of a financial organization‘s successful sports marketing strategies in China.

In 2007, China CITIC Bank joined China Open’s platinum sponsor roster, marking the beginning of a solid long-term partnership. During that edition of the China Open, China CITIC Bank partnered with world-leading tennis management company Peter Burwash International (PBI). With this partnership, PBI delivered their famous live tennis presentation, the PBI Tennis Show, to the China Open fans. Shownat many international tennis tournaments, the PBI Tennis Show is an original live tennis presentation created by PBI.

Apart from the live show, the China CITIC Bank set up an tennis experience zone called “Tennis Carnival” outside the courts. At this experience zone, tennis enthusiasts received tennis tuition under the direction of PBI’s coaches, which enabled them to gain a better understanding of tennis. Moreover, China CITIC Bank organized a freestyle tennis game where tennis fans could show off their fancy tennis skills. 

All the activities mentioned above reveal some of China CITIC Bank’s ideas for fan engagement – they want to provide tennis fans with entertaining activities and positive fan experience, in order to attract them to engage in the sport while simultaneously improving their brand awareness.

Further to engaging tennis fans, China CITIC Bank also sought to promote their brand. Offering VIP tickets and relevant court side services to their guests was one of the promotion campaigns used by China CITIC Bank. In fact, it was a groundbreaking service offered at the China Open at the time. In 2008, China CITIC Bank refined this activity by setting up an exclusive hotline for their guests, as well as improving the food quality and other service quality in the guest lounges at China Open’s court pavilions.

Regarding public promotion, China CITIC Bank focused on Beijing residents‘ daily life. In Beijing, people use a card called the Beijing Municipal Communication & Administration Card (BMA Card) for such situations as taking a bus or subway or purchasing something in certain stores or shopping malls. In 2008, a ChinaOpen-themed BMA Card was unveiled to Beijing citizens, which was welcomed by all tennis fans in the capital.

In 2009, the China Open tournament received an overall upgrade. TheChina Open women‘s event edged into the WTA Premier Mandatory tournaments, while the men’s event joined the ATP World Tour 500 Series roster. These international upgrades allowed China Open’s sponsors to find more opportunities for their sponsorship, especially for China CITIC Bank.

At the 2009 China Open, based on former activities introduced in the previous two editions, China CITIC Bank launched some new marketing strategies, including giving large fun size checks to players as their prize money and installing China CITIC Bank’s ATMs at the National Tennis Center, the home of the China Open.

At the next edition of the China Open in 2010, China CITIC Bank released a ChinaOpen-featured debit card. With this type of card fans could get a ground pass for every match day and also get a 10% discount when they bought tickets on China Open’s official website, ticket hotline and ticket office set up at the National Tennis Center. This campaign helped to connect tennis fans more with the China Open, which was regarded as a better marketing approach than by just exposing their logo on the courts. 

After their continuous 4-year marketing experience at the China Open, China CITIC Bank became a leading player in China’s sports marketing area. At the 2011 CCTV China Sports Marketing Forum, China CITIC Bank’s marketing campaign at the 2010 China Open was selected as one of the Top 10 Sports Marketing Cases. At the China Sports Marketing Summit which took place following the forum, China CITIC Bank also received the top prize of Sports Marketing Case of the Year. 

Although China CITIC Bank was still considered a newcomer in 2011, their creative ideas in sports marketing has showed their creative energy in this area. Now, China CITIC Bank as a long term partner of the China Open is an official diamond sponsor offering new marketing campaigns every year. 

So, to answer our opening question of what can a financial enterprise do in sports marketing? We can just see from what China CITIC Bank has done and achieved successfully at the China Open as a good answer to this question. 

Proofread by Raymond Fitzpatrick



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