Yingli Solar is a World Cup 2010 sponsorship winner

29 July, 2010

SHANGHAI — MEC, www.mecglobal.com, a leading media agency, today revealed results from a survey from China on the World Cup showing Yingli Solar as the big sponsorship winner at the event. Yingli Solar raised its awareness from almost zero up to 14% during the run-up to the World Cup and plus 30% by the end of the tournament.

For Yingli Solar, an investment with arguably the biggest global event served two objectives: firstly to create awareness and uplift its image back home in China; secondly to signal to the world that it is aggressively moving into the international arena.

Prior to the World Cup, the founder of Yingli Solar, Liansheng Miao, was well known for being the 30th richest person on the Forbes Asia 2007 list of China's wealthiest. However, Yingli Solar itself was a little known brand outside of the solar panel industry, despite the fact that it has 7% of the global solar energy market according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Associating itself with the World Cup allowed it to elevate its image almost overnight within China.

MEC’s research showed that the awareness of Yingli Solar rose from close to nothing to 30% after the games and in the city of Chengdu, a second tier city, the awareness score was as high as 36%.

Not only did Yingli Solar score well in awareness, it achieved impressive results in all indicators along the purchase pathway. It managed to translate awareness (30%) to interest in the brand (24%), to preference for the brand (18%) and then to intention to buy (11%). Had Yingli Solar been a consumer brand instead of an industrial brand, an 11% intention to buy for an originally close-to-unknown brand within a two month duration before and after the World Cup would be considered spectacular results.

While Yingli Solar had benefited hugely from its sponsorship of the World Cup at home, its other objective of creating awareness and boosting its image in the international arena has not been as successful. In addition to Yingli Solar, three other lesser known players used sponsorship of the World Cup to make their debut into the international arena: Seara of Brazil, Mahindra Satyam of India and mtn of South Africa.

The 2010 World Cup attracted more than 500 million TV viewers and was a great vehicle through which to put a company on the world map. However, judging by the search traffic and news mentions these brands garnered internationally, the results were disappointing. A review of Google Trends for the past 12 months showed that these new comers to the global stage, in particular Yingli Solar, did not generate much interest. This is especially the case when compared to an established giant such as Coca Cola, who had managed to build search volume for the past 12 months to its highest point during the World Cup. Coca Cola has been a long standing sponsor of the World Cup and other mega-events, such as the 2008 Olympic Games held in Beijing. Therefore, it is no surprise that Chinese consumers are well aware of Coca Cola’s sponsorship of the World Cup in South Africa.

Michelle Ko, President of MEC China said: “Sponsorship of mega-events, when deployed as part of a communications strategy, is a great way to create active engagement between brands and consumers. Yingli Solar has done an excellent job in building bonds with Chinese consumers. A comment from a blogger that said ‘China’s soccer team did not make it to the World Cup, but Chinese advertisement did. Just seeing the two characters zhong guo (中国) (on TV) makes me all emotional’ is a really positive testament to the success of Yingli Solar’s strategy.”

Theresa Loo, National Director of Strategic Planning, Analytics and Insight, MEC China said: “Mega-event sponsorship is a strategic medium in a marketer’s communications toolbox. It has the ability to help brands build both awareness and preference within a short time. We are sure to see more Chinese brands using strategic sponsorship of mega-events to make their debuts into the international arena. However, it is more than the communication of a solo event. A brand needs to both communicate to ‘promote the sponsorship’ prior to the event and ride on the momentum it creates to further invest in brand building afterwards.”

For more information, please contact:
Nathalie Haxby
+44 20 7803 2319

About MEC
We deliver value by creating, implementing and measuring communication solutions that actively engage people with brands.

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Our 4,000 highly talented and motivated people work with domestic and international clients in 84 countries. We are a founding partner of GroupM. To find out more, visit us at www.mecglobal.com  

These results are from a 2-wave research study conducted by MEC to measure (1) interest in the World Cup (2) likely viewing habits, and (3) sponsor awareness.

A total of two surveys were conducted online before (27 April to 7 May, 2010) and after (12 to 17 July, 2010) the World Cup by GMI, an international online research agency. The sample size was 1000 respondents across 5 cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen) in China.

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