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Top 10 Guide To Creating Sports Marketing Campaigns in China

Updated: Jun 21

The Ocean Race

For international sports organisations and sport event rightsholders looking to be visible across broadcast, digital and social media platforms in China.

1. Devise a China strategy. Make sure you have a clear message to the market. What do you want to achieve? Who is your target audience? What is the rationale for engaging with the market. To ‘to seek new revenues’ isn’t a strategic goal.

2. Distil your China strategy down to three short key messages. Everyone in your organisation needs to know your China messaging; understand them and verbalise them. From the President and C.E.O to technical officials and communications staff. The whole organisation should be able to clearly articulate your China message. 

3. Choose the right social media channel for your sport or event: Specific platforms have specific traits so choose the appropriate one and get to know how to operate it. Little Red Book younger female-audience skewed (70%). Weibo is closest to Twitter and has internal algorithm for conducting lucky draws. WeChat is good for e-magazine format and e-commerce. Bilibili works for short and long-form video content and is the choice for creators, Douyin is the older sister of Tiktok, though operated entirely separately and is a phenomenon with 730 million average monthly users in China.

4. What about blue ticks for my China social account? A new account takes 4-6 weeks for verification and requires an experienced Chinese person who is a resident in China to operate it. IP protection and IP copyright is a key concern in China and platforms want to ensure the federation is legitimate and the bona fide owner of the video and stills as well as the sports events themselves.

Dubia Marathon

5. Aim for athlete-generated content. As for non-Chinese markets, fans like to engage with and hear from athletes. However, for Chinese athletes, media skills are evolving and need to be balanced with certain sports that feel media exposure is risky ahead of a competition and potentially detracts from athlete performance. If a relationship of trust can be established, then younger athletes are less inhibited and social media savvy and can be excellent spokespersons. Senior team members can also be terrific communicators with fans: short track speed skaters have led the way in this regard.

6. Include the fans. Fan reaction, fan engagement, fan zones, meet the athletes – this is part of modern sport and Chinese venues are becoming more fan-friendly. Interaction with fans makes for good content. A campaign that includes a lucky draw for tickets or autographed items is a surefire winner. A recent promotion for ISU (skating) had 20,000 competition entries apply to win some event tickets in Shanghai.

7. Create your own content. Rather than always repurposing Instagram or Facebook content, you can create your own in China, and this is sometimes the best way to tell a story from a multi-media perspective. H&A Media produced 17 episodes (including 1 pilot show) for The Ocean Race in a studio in Beijing, complete with presenters, guests and roving reporter Lily Xu Lijia, China’s only sailing Olympic gold medallist, meeting the sailors in Europe and filing reports for the show. The Chinese version of The Ocean Race studio show brought in around 20 million views and aired on five different platforms with specific demographics.

The Ocean Race TV team

8. Localise your live events stream. If the sport is produced for broadcast already, there are options for delivery over IP with the addition of expert Mandarin Chinese commentary to create a ready-to-air localised broadcast onto an existing streaming platform. ICF has streaming all canoe / kayak events into China on the Huya platform, in a deal brokered by H&A Media, since 2019 and is part of their growth story in that market.

9. Measuring success of your China campaign. Social platforms will provide a range of metrics including engagement, follower growth and output links to all posts in.xls format. Digital streaming platforms will provide information on peak views, cumulative views, average viewing time, viewer demographics and gender split. There is no third-party software available that scans accounts other than your own and only your designated platform administrator has access.

 ICF (canoeing) in China

10. Ensure your website can be viewed in China. -This is fundamental to Chinese fans so they can participate in global surveys and competitions as well as China based technical officials being able to access rules and regulations. It’s worth checking with your IT Department that China is not country geo-blocked as a first step.

Guy Horne is Managing Director of H&A Media

H&A Media is a Swiss-based sports media, broadcast and communications company with a

presence in Beijing and is active in the market working for a wide range of international

sports federations, brands, commercial sports properties and tourism boards.

For more information,

Linkedin @handamedia


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Jun 25
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Interesting insight

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