Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar da Silva, Gareth Bale and Son Heung-min have more in common than being outstanding soccer players: They either are sponsored by or have a contract with Korean companies.
Sports sponsorship is not new. It has long been used by private firms to build a close bond with consumers and promote their brand images.
Samsung and LG, which currently market themselves through sports including soccer, baseball, basketball and cricket, are ratcheting up their sports marketing efforts.
|Samsung Electronics managing director Park Kyung-cheol (left), Brazil’s national football team captain Thiago Silva and Confederacao Brasileira de Futebol president Jose Maria Marin pose at the signing ceremony for sponsorship in Brasilia on Monday. (Samsung Electronics)|
Samsung Electronics announced Tuesday that it had made a sponsorship deal with Brazil’s soccer federation (Confederacao Brasileira de Futebol).
Through the deal, which will last from this year to 2018, the firm has obtained the rights to use images of the players and the federation’s emblem in marketing.
“Samsung will try to take one step closer to football fans in Brazil and those around the world through the sponsorship for the best football team in the world,” Samsung Electronics managing director Park Kyung-cheol said.
The world’s largest electronics firm will support the Brazilin team through the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the following 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Samsung has maintained a sponsorship deal with the English Premier League’s Chelsea FC since 2005.
LG Electronics, which aims to regain its past reputation as the strongest player in the consumer electronics market, also signed a sponsorship deal with Bayer 04 Leverkusen, a German football club, last week.
Former player and head coach of the Korean national football team Cha Bum-kun, who is also one of the most legendary players in Bundesliga history, once played for the team in the 1980s. Korean player Son Heung-min is currently playing for the team.
The Leverkusen footballers play with the uniform marked with the LG emblem.
“The prestigious image of the Leverkusen football club matches well with the premium brand image of LG,” said an LG official.
“Son is young and playing for the national team. He will have a great marketing effect both in Germany and Korea.”
For years LG has been sponsoring the racing competition Formula 1, the Cricket World Cup and the NCAA, a college sports association in the United States.
Naver, the largest Korean Web portal operator, has opened official accounts of Spanish soccer clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid on its mobile messenger LINE.
“In such countries as Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Spain where mobile messenger Line is widely used, sports teams try to utilize the mobile messenger as a marketing means,” a Naver official said.
LINE users will be able to receive news feeds on the results of football matches, and use the caricatures, called “stickers,” of the teams’ star players while chatting on the messenger.
An increasing number of users are downloading the mobile messenger in Asia, South America and Europe.
Since the Spanish language is used in Spain as well as most of Latin America, Naver’s move to penetrate the Spanish market could turn out to be a wise one, according to a market watcher.
The number of LINE users surpassed 230 million worldwide in August; 480 million in Japan, 180 million in Thailand, 170 million in Taiwan and 15 million in Spain, according to the firm.
Latin America is one of the regions, along with the Asia-Pacific and Eastern Europe, that exhibited the highest smartphone growth rates in the second quarter of this year, with 55.7 percent, according to research institute Gartner.
Naver said it also sponsors a baseball team in Taiwan.
By Kim Young-won (email@example.com