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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Collins

Brands at Wimbledon and their Chinese disaster

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

Another year, another Wimbledon. Yes, our favourite grass tournament has come and gone in a flash. Novak and Serena are our two singles champions, but they weren’t the only ones doing a little dance of joy. This was a chance for leading sponsors to get their name up in lights and be broadcast to millions. Surely many global brands would leap at the opportunity to expand their Chinese following? The results were far from spectacular.


Among those attempting to take the limelight were hotel and travel brands. Keen to inspire Weibo users to visit Wimbledon, they offered various incentives and discounts to reel in potential clients. Sadly the bait was poor, and the likes of Eurostar and Conrad Hotels posted content that was barely related to SW19. Indeed, the mediocrity of their posts didn’t even warrant any engagement. In the travel department it was British airways who led the way, delving through the archives to provide followers with historic photos of the Championships from centuries gone by. The airline provided content that was relevant and unique but above all, interesting.


In this respect, it was two food and drinks brands who stood out. Evian created an extremely relatable GIF surrounding watching tennis matches, whilst McDonald’s got the mouth watering with their ice-cream promotion. It is the simplicity of Evian’s GIF that makes it so endearing. They are not only promoting their product in an easy way, but they make it appealing content to share through its comic relatability – something which most of the other brands failed to do. As far as best of the rest goes, the mantle must go to Peugeot. Boosted by their close ties with Novak Djokovic, they took full advantage of his success to get photos of him holding the trophy with their brand emblazoned on his arm.


Wimbledon is a notoriously fashionable event; celebrities and fashionistas all dressing up to the nines for a day at the tennis. While Jimmy Choo impressed with their retro tennis image, I was particularly disappointed with Ralph Lauren. As a leading sponsor at Wimbledon and an icon of all-things-British, they were well-placed to deliver some viral content. Instead, they posted a couple of images of celebrities Tom Hiddlestone and Laura Bailey. Whilst they looked lovely and gained a few likes in the process, it showed a lack of creativity and opportunism. Fashion magazine ELLE had more success, but this was due to the quantity of content that they uploaded in their post – nine photos of ‘sporty chic’ chicks.


Surprisingly, very few sporting brands took to Weibo during the Championships. HEAD led the way, holding several competitions over the fortnight; some that the appeals greatly to the Chinese masses. Leading brands such as Nike and Adidas produced no Wimbledon content at all which seems staggering when you consider just how many players they provide sponsorship for.


China has a population of 1.3 billion, and I find it staggering that large Western brands are not peppering Chinese social media with more content and promotion. Because China is such a large potential market, I would encourage every brand who wants to grow their fan base in the East to invest in mechanisms by which to stimulate growth in that area. Whether it be hiring full-time employees or simply trusting an external company to do the heavy lifting with greater precision and success, I believe it’s an integral part of keeping any brand relevant in China.

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