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China is playing a prominent role in the European Championship – at least on the perimeter advertising and as an official partner of the organizing UEFA. Christiane Kühl not only took a closer look at the four goals scored by the German team against Portugal but also scrutinized the so-called “Sponsoring Soft Power“. Chinese companies are cleverly using the European Championship as a platform to present themselves to fans internationally – including a Cologne advertising ambassador.
As closely interwoven as the economic world is here, global logistics currently appear to be fragile. As recently as March, a ship blocked the bottleneck of the Suez Canal for six days. On satellite images, we observed the transverse colossus and the ships jamming at the north and south ends of the canal. Finn Mayer-Kuckuk is now analyzing the impact of COVID-19 infections among workers at the southern Chinese port of Yantian near Shenzhen on the flow of goods, and again satellite images provide important clues. Once again, container giants are jammed, freight rates are rising, goods are delayed, supply chains are disrupted. Global logistics are in a tight spot.
Meanwhile, another bridge between East and West is paying a high price for its determination to be represented in both worlds. Users on LinkedIn will become invisible if they include content critical of China in their profiles, Marcel Grzanna reports. The platform announced that the profiles of two users will not be accessible from China in the future. LinkedIn is responding to censorship requests from the Chinese government. It is not the first company to bend to the wishes of the Chinese Communist Party. Its arm reaches far these days.
Background Advertising makes Alipay, Hisense, and TikTok popular
When Kai Havertz drove the ball into the net from close-range for a 3-1 win over Portugal, the name “Vivo” shone white on a bright blue background on the advertising boards in Munich’s Allianz Arena. When Robin Gosens made it 4-1 for Germany, the boards were dark grey with white TiktTok lettering. When Portugal’s Renato Sanches hits the crossbar shortly before the end, Chinese characters flicker across the board: 支付宝 – internationally known as Alipay, the payment platform of online retailer Alibaba.
Chinese companies will be present at Euro 2020 (the name has remained the same despite the COVID-related postponement to 2021) like never before at a UEFA European Championship. Alipay and TV manufacturer Hisense are official partners of all UEFA internationals, alongside VW, Gazprom, Booking.com, and FedEx. Both will remain on board until after the 2024 European Championships. The Chinese brand Vivo is the official smartphone partner of both the 2020 and 2024 tournaments. As tournament sponsors, the short video app TikTok, Alibaba’s blockchain subsidiary AntChain, and World First, a platform specializing in processing international payments, will appear on the advertising boards. Founded in Australia in 2004, World First has also been part of Alibaba since 2019.
Experts say it simply puts the Chinese economy with its current export power right where it belongs. “Due to these sponsorships, companies are becoming visible around the world and part of a global exchange that their country didn’t participate in before,” says Simon Chadwick of the Centre for the Eurasian Sport Industry, based in Paris Shanghai, and other cities. “These exchanges have an immediate positive impact as it leads to people engaging with the country itself and its businesses.” Chadwick calls this “Sponsorship Soft Power“. According to the government, China wants to become a major player in international football as soon as possible. The big dream is to host a World Cup. “But of course, these companies are also becoming increasingly global, targeting customers worldwide, especially Vivo and Hisense,” Chadwick told China.Table.