Chinese New Year - Year of the Sports Marketing Monkey?
As the celebrations begin in earnest with is unique colour, dragons and lanterns across all Chinese communities in cities around the world, the lunar new year will also see in a big shift in the sports world.
The speed and rapacious appetite for sports rights in China is the topic that is front of mind for many businesses in sport. In this article here Forbes looks at the big headline deals that have been made in recent months, and rightly questions is it worth it?
Over the years sports acquisitions and investments have proved to be consistently strong performers in challenging market conditions. China is investing in the long game here, its deals show a shrewd eye for the signature deals with football in particular - the NBA have form here as they built the most robust academy programme in the territory and will undoubtably benefit from sports continued rise in profile.
As the likes of Jack Ma, Wang Jianlin buy into big landmark value deals domestically and overseas the sports marketing community are looking how to get a slice of the action.
On the one hand you have City Football Group have been invested in to the tune of $400million by China Media Capital with powerhouse of media and entertainment Mr. Li Ruigang taking a seat on the clubs Board. Then in the other hand you have the agile sports marketing agencies that are meeting the demand for Chinese sponsors to be linked to European football clubs, the likes of Sport Quake are making particularly good headway in that regard.
Hiring trends are now starting to be seen now across the main stakeholders in this sector - the content markets investing in producing high quality output are hiring very senior level people from US and Europe for strategic roles. The entertainment markets are buying in sports professionals from TV, radio, print and online to educate the mass domestic market on football in particular. Training academy staff, coaches, talent scouts will be popular hires with the plans for stadia and academies (50,000+ over the next 10 years)
Key entry points with be Singapore - a well established sports network with good balance of local and international expertise. Likewise Hong Kong, but mainland China is less represented as Western sports marketers don't tend to settle well there yet. Local appetite is high but having seen a few top senior commercial director level people turn down punchy offers of work citing family reasons, pollution, chaotic working environment and cultural barriers.
One tried and tested route is being used by many and thats installing senior Chinese into key positions in European clubs and businesses to bridge the gaps, absorb knowledge and implement upon their eventual return to their home country.
The increased focus on China and the undeniably rich rewards for doing it well means that much will be learnt as all parties look to chase their own slice of the action. But recent volatility in Chinas markets has signalled caution and if the lunar calendar is anything to go by (the year of the Monkey is the most unlucky) then it really is going to be a game of two halves.
Gong Xi Fa Cai everyone!
Dominic has been successfully recruiting in the sports marketing industries for over 20 years working for many of the worlds biggest teams, brands and agencies globally. He works in house for some of the most advanced thinking football clubs working with senior management get the best people in ways that are innovative and results focussed. In the Chinese calendar he falls into Year of the Ox