Football Teams Posed for Big Year in China
February 8, 2014 |

Chinese New Year, the biggest holiday in the Chinese calendar, was celebrated at the end of the January this year. In addition to the traditional activities of going home (Chinese New Year is the world’s largest annual human migration), playing Mahjong with the grandparents, and giving hong bao (money gifts in a red envelope), there was a marked increase in Chinese New Year branding from both national and international brands online

Users on Sina Weibo, Twitter’s Chinese counterpart, posted a record 863,408 messages during the first 60 seconds of the new year, the year of the horse. Even more remarkable, wildly popular WeChat (known as Weixin in China), the newest platform on the block, recorded an incredible 10 million messages in a one minute period on the eve of Lunar New Year. Additionally, WeChat managed to pull off an incredible marketing stunt: an online hong bao gift feature that allowed users to send virtual cash-filled envelopes to their friends. Tencent disclosed that over 20 million envelopes were sent amongst users, a figure that confirms their increasingly dominant position in the Chinese social media landscape, their entry into the mobile payment market, and the future of brand campaigns.

European football teams were also quick to leverage the New Year celebrations, with many integrating the content into their global promotions. Below, KAWO checks out some of the best campaigns:

The Winner

Tottenham Hotspur raced ahead with their Chinese New Year celebrations launching a Chinese New Year micro-site in both English and Chinese language. The micro-site featured China relevant content including interviews with Spurs fans from a China Supporters Club on a specially organized trip to the UK, contests to win a special-edition signed Spurs shirt and photos from Spurs fans celebrating Chinese New Year. The micro-site also included a video depicting the similarities between Spurs and a horse, highlighting Spurs’ respect and expert knowledge of the Chinese holiday.


Manchester United ran a 7 day prize give-away which included signed memorabilia as well as recording video interviews with current players who were born in year of the horse feature. Other top European teams, including Real Madrid, Arsenal, Manchester City and Barcelona all produced Chinese New Year greeting video messages. 


Liverpool proved their deep understanding of the Chinese culture by running a contest where fans could win one of five hong bao. The prizes included a signed Liverpool FC home shirt and signed match-day programs from the fixture against Everton.


PSG and Ajax continued to develop their growing presence in China by also producing Chinese New Year greeting messages, whilst Aston Villa again made great strides to break into the Chinese market by recording their players trying their hand at traditional calligraphy. 


As China’s football fan base continues to grow, there are sure to be more focus and personalization to marketing to Chinese consumers. Stay tuned for KAWO’s Red Card, which examines how well football clubs are doing on Chinese social media!

For all the latest updates follow KAWO on WeChat.

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