361° the major Chinese sports apparel brand has becomes a key partner of the World Curling Federation and the Swedish Curling Association. The partnership has been secured by Infront Sports & Media, Official Media and Marketing Partner of the World Curling Federation. It secures 361° in a sponsorship and equipment contract, covering the full schedule of international WCF Events in the 2010/11 to 2013/14 period.
The Chinese company also becomes Official Partner and Equipment Provider of the Swedish Curling Association. The agreement has been brokered by Infront’s “Gateway to China” service, based in Switzerland. “Gateway to China” is the premier resource for European and Chinese based clients seeking to capitalise on sports opportunities in each others' markets. Over the past years Infront has successfully developed this service due to its substantial presence in both regions.
Partner of WCF and SCA
The contract with 361°, one of China’s top sport apparel brands, includes a wide range of rights over a four-year period with product category exclusivity. The company will be both – Official Equipment Provider and Official Partner – for the international governing body – the World Curling Federation (WCF) – as well as for the Swedish Curling Association (SCA). Infront holds marketing agreements with both entities.
All Board Members and Staff of the WCF will wear 361° clothing at all World Curling Championship Events and during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. In addition, the brand has acquired significant advertising rights to all World Championship Events outside Canada with exposure under the ice, on scoreboards and perimeter boards.
The Swedish Curling team will wear 361° apparel at all its major international curling Events as well. The 361° logo will be featured on all team clothing. Besides equipping the SCA with top sports apparel, they also benefit from financial support that will be re-invested in the development of curling – a highly popular sport in Sweden partially due to the women’s team gold medal performances at the last two Olympic Winter Games.
Connecting markets via sponsorship
The sponsorship commitment of 361° for the sport of curling is the first of its kind in the international winter sport business. Never before has a Chinese sports apparel brand become the clothing sponsor of an Olympic winter sports federation. The commitment of 361° to international curling is a great result for Infront, proving the success of its efforts in connecting the Asian and the European markets and in providing its partners with tailormade sponsorship opportunities.
The involvement of a Chinese brand in curling is also the logical next step in the recent development of the sport throughout Asia. Although the Chinese women’s national curling team was only formed in 2000, they have been able to qualify for the WCF World Women’s Curling Championship six times, resulting in a huge increase in the popularity of the sport and a significant increase in media exposure. During the 2009 World Curling Championship in Korea, the team’s gold medal performance reached a cumulated TV audience of 59 Million viewers (1) on China’s major national sports broadcaster CCTV 5.
TV exposure of curling is not only growing in China, but also worldwide. During the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, over 1,225 hours of curling were followed by 22.6 million viewers (cum.) in 35 territories (2).
Strong communication impact of major WCF events
Jun Ling, Brand Director of 361°, said: “The sport of curling has drastically gained in popularity in China as well as internationally. Our partnership with the WCF and the SCA provide our company with a perfect platform to communicate our brand both domestically and internationally. Given the growing popularity of curling and the strong communication impact of major international curling Events including the competitions during the Winter Olympic Games, our brand will highly benefit from this sponsorship commitment. Thanks to its intercontinental approach and network, Infront provided us with an attractive way to enter a new market and position 361° outside China.”
Kate Caithness, President of the World Curling Federation, commented: “Once again, Infront’s efforts in streamlining the Marketing Programme and enhancing the communication value of WCF Events for major brands has proved successful. In addition, 361° has - already in the past - proven its commitment to our sport, when it provided the official sportswear of the Chinese Men's and Women's Curling teams during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.”
A globalised sports market
Bjorn Rüdström, President of the Swedish Curling Association, added: “It’s great to see how sport is able to connect markets. In the end, this dual agreement will highly benefit the sport of Curling – in Sweden, in China and worldwide.”
Bruno Marty, Executive Director Winter Sports, Infront said: “This agreement is a milestone – not only for curling, but also for other winter sports. It acknowledges the trend towards a globalised sports market and is a win-win situation for both sides. The 361° brand associates itself with a popular sport – WCF and SCA benefit from a well-established partner and enhanced public awareness in China.”
(1) figures provided by IFM
(2) figures provided by Sponsorship Intelligence
361 Degrees International Limited designs, manufactures and distributes sporting goods in the People’s Republic of China. Its products include athletic footwear, apparel and accessories under the 361° brand name. It has more than 8,000 employees. As of June 2009, the company distributed its products through 3,277 authorised retailers who own and manage 6,055 authorised 361° retail outlets in 31 Provinces. 361 Degrees International Limited is headquartered in Xiamen. www.361sport.com