Here are the top China sports business news stories you need to know from this week, and my From the Top interview is with Scott Munn, CEO China of City Football Group, where we discuss the Group’s latest partnership in China, as well as Manchester City’s upcoming tour as part of the Premier League Asia Trophy.
UFC Officially Opens Shanghai Performance Institute
The culmination of more than a year of planning and construction, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) celebrated the grand opening of the UFC Performance Institute Shanghai, the world’s largest, state-of-the-art MMA training and development facility. Read more on SCMP (English) and UFC (Chinese)
Mailman Take: A monumental week for the UFC in China! Opening the Shanghai Performance Institute and announcing a Shenzhen debut which will see Chinese fighter Zhang Weili become the first-ever Chinese athlete to compete for a UFC title in the first-ever UFC championship fight held in China. This is a great example of a sports brand giving back to China and helping to develop local heroes and a new generation of athletes and fans.
YuYuan Art Sculpts MCFC Partnership English Premier League champions Manchester City has announced a new partnership with Shenzhen-based YuYuan Art Investment Group to become the Club’s Official Art, Culture & Football Education Partner. Over the course of a multi-year agreement, YuYuan Art will collaborate with City Football Group (CFG) on global projects. Read more on Manchester City English & Chinese
Mailman Take: Another month, another China partnership for City Football Group. Having brought on Chinese alcohol brand JNC last month as official Baijiu Partner, this time its Art, Culture and Football Education. It’s true there are many partnership categories created, but there’s no hiding from the fact CFG has a very strong commercial model which has seen them bring on an impressive number of new partners.
NBA China Brings on Luckin Coffee for 2019 China Games Chinese coffee brand Luckin Coffee, which recently IPO’d on NASDAQ, has become an official partner for the 2019 NBA China Games. Earlier this year, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced the NBA China Games 2019 presented by VIVO will feature two preseason games between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. The Lakers and Nets will play Thursday, Oct. 10 in Shanghai, followed by a rematch in Shenzhen on Saturday, Oct. 12. Read more on Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)
Mailman Take: They have not signed on as a long-term official partner of NBA China, but Luckin Coffee will be able to capitalise on the huge hysteria to hit China when the popular Lakers and Joseph Tsai co-owned Nets land in China.
Curling World Cup Put on Ice After Payment Issue The World Curling Federation cancelled the 2019-20 Curling World Cup, claiming its funding partner, Chinese company Kingdomway Sports, failed to make payments. Last year, the federation and Kingdomway Sports announced a four-year partnership from 2018-19 to 2021-22, which the China Daily reported Kingdomway Sports was investing $13.4 million in to. Read more on Sport Business (English) and Ecosports (Chinese)
Mailman Take: Kingdomway Sports also signed a partnership with The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) earlier this year to “promote youth football development over the next 15 years by transferring knowledge and know-how to China.” They also claim to work with the Premier League and LaLiga, and If true, this latest failure to fund will likely unease those IPs which have previously signed partnerships.
Ecosports Rebrands as Keti Sports business media platform Ecosports has rebranded with a new name and logo - the company is now called ‘Keti’. I spoke to Keti founder Chendiandian, who explained to me the reasons behind the rebrand. “The original brand of ECOSPORTS was tedious and always confused people. We believe it’s good timing to rebrand. Moreover, the rebranding illustrates the service upgrade of ECOSPORTS to cover more marketing and event operations.” Read more on Ecosports (Chinese)
In Other News
Yili and Mengniu Argue Over Olympic Sponsorship Chinese dairy products company Yili Group issued a public statement criticising domestic competitor Mengniu Dairy of harming Yili’s interests by finding an underhanded way of sponsoring the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Yili reportedly beat rivals Mengniu in open bidding to become the exclusive partner for dairy products for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics. However, Mengniu had maneuvered to become a global joint partner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the drinks category by paying to join forces with Coca-Cola, which is an IOC partner. Read more on Campaign (English) and Lanxiong Sports (Chinese)
From the Top
This week I spoke to Scott Munn, CEO China of City Football Group, where we discuss the Group’s latest partnership in China, as well as Manchester City’s upcoming tour as part of the Premier League Asia Trophy.
1. YuYuan Art is the latest partnership for Manchester City in China. How does the Club plan to utilise these partnerships next month during the Premier League Asia Trophy? Firstly, we could not be more excited to be embarking on this endeavor with YuYuan Art, as sport and culture come together to create something unique and meaningful all over the world.
The Premier League Asia Trophy will be a great opportunity for YuYuan Art and other partners to see Manchester City live in action and engage with our fans in various activations.
2. What criteria and market relevance does the Club look for when choosing new partners in China? When teaming up with new partners we look for a shared vision and a passion for collaboration and innovation. City Football Group’s global yet locally authentic approach to partnerships provides its partners with an unrivalled marketing platform to enable deeper, more personal engagement with fans and new and non-traditional audiences.
That is why we are so thrilled to be welcoming YuYuan Art into the City Football Group family. It is a unique and creative partnership where two organisations with a heritage of community values are collaborating to empower the lives of others.
3. What can we expect to see from the Club next month in China, both on and off the pitch? We’re hugely excited to be coming back to Asia this summer and to be playing in Nanjing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. We haven’t visited since 2016 and we can’t wait to play in front of some great crowds. These matches will be giving the team the best preparation for the season ahead.
We’re also going to have some fantastic and exciting activities going on including fan events and working with local community projects. -- Now you can subscribe to our China Sports Business Weekly brief and have it delivered directly to you, wherever you are. Mailman is a global sports digital agency and marketing platform. We help global rights holders, athletes and brands build a successful business across China, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Learn more about our story here