Two new smartphones were introduced by Chinese telecom firm ZTE on the opening day of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) on Monday, Feb. 22, in Barcelona, Spain. At the same time, its rival Huawei held a product launch in the same building, but didn’t receive the same headlines as the former.
The secret lies in ZTE’s sports sponsorship strategy. The product launch was just one day after ZTE’s announcement of their sponsorship deal with Sevilla, the reigning UEFA Europa League champion and finalists in this year's Copa Del Rey. Under the partnership, ZTE will become the “Official Technology Partner” and smartphone provider for the Spanish soccer team.
"ZTE are proud to be the new official technological partner of Sevilla FC, one of the best sides in the world," ZTE CEO Jacky Zhang said in a statement. "We look forward to having even more sports fans become ZTE fans, to forge new legends for the mobile century."
This is not the first time that ZTE has involved its businesses with sports. The telecom firm has devoted itself to brand-awareness campaigns through partnerships with five NBA teams: the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors, the New York Knicks, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls.
According to Charles Clover of the Financial Times, “From no presence in 2010, it (ZTE) had 7.5 per cent of the US smartphone market in the third quarter of last year, according to IDC, up from 6.8 per cent in the same period the year before - beating all but Samsung, LG, and Apple.”
ZTE’s sports marketing perspective has also increased its product sales and brand awareness in the world market. In 2015, ZTE’s smartphone shipments amounted to 56 million, making it the world's sixth largest handset maker in the smartphone industry.
But ZTE’s ambition is not limited to the American market and its current world ranking. The partnership with Sevilla shows it has decided to expand into the European market. Zeng Xuezhong, Executive Vice President of the company, believes that ZTE will duplicate its successful business model to find its own niche in Europe, despite the fact that its rivals like OPPO and Huawei have already achieved their market share there.
As reported by several sources, ZTE will bring a traveling roadshow to Europe in the coming months. The "Experience Bus" will pass through five countries and 15 cities in two months, offering the public the opportunity to try out some of ZTE's latest consumer electronic devices. In addition, ZTE plans to expand the number of its stores in EMEA and APAC to 80,000 by the end of 2016.
Proofread by John Devlin.