FIFA Secretary-General Fatma Samoura displays a Vivo smartphone presented to her by Ni Xudong, senior vice-president of Vivo Mobile Communication Technology Co Ltd, in Beijing on Wednesday. (Photo/China News Service)
Chinese smartphone maker Vivo Mobile Communication Technology Co Ltd said it had signed a six-year deal with FIFA to sponsor the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, as the company steps up efforts to boost global exposure by embracing international sports events.
The sponsorship is the company's latest attempt to expand its presence in overseas markets after it expanded to be the third-biggest smartphone seller in China.
As FIFA's official smartphone brand, Vivo will sponsor the FIFA World Cup as well as the FIFA Confederations Cup until 2022.
The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia, with the 2022 event to be held in Qatar.
The Financial Times quoted people familiar with the matter as saying that the deal cost around 400 million euros (9.6 million), but Vivo denied the figure to China Daily on Thursday.
Under the deal, Vivo will roll out a customized FIFA World Cup phone to appeal to global fans. Its logo will also appear during every match on pitch advertising boards, tickets, media releases and other key promotional platforms.
"Soccer is a sport full of passion and moments of wonder, creating happiness for millions of people," said Ni Xudong, executive vice-president of Vivo. "The spirit of soccer is about constant progress. Vivo hopes to strongly associate itself with that spirit."
FIFA Secretary-General Fatma Samoura said that soccer and technology were coming closer together by the day, on and off the pitch,
Vivo was the world's fifth-biggest smartphone seller in the first quarter of 2017, with shipments of 18.1 million units. Its year-on-year growth rate in the first quarter hit 23.6 percent, faster than Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, data from market research firm International Data Corp showed.
The Shenzhen-based company is the latest Chinese enterprise to sponsor the World Cup, following property and cinema giant Dalian Wanda Group and electronics manufacturer Hisense Group.
Vivo's previous involvement in sport included the title sponsorship of the Indian Premier League cricket competition and a strategic partnership with the NBA to become NBA China's official mobile handset sponsor.
The company has ramped up its overseas presence since 2014. It now has seven research and development centers in China and the United States.
James Yan, research director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, said the FIFA deal was meant to establish a beachhead in the Russian and Middle East markets.
"It is following a marketing-first strategy," he said.
"By sponsoring the FIFA World Cup, Vivo can boost its branding influence, which will lay down a sound base for it to negotiate with local retailers."