Vivo becomes FIFA's smartphone sponsor in a six-year, US$ 450m deal

MUMBAI: Football is one of the most fascinating sports, and the FIFA World Cup one of the top global sporting competitions. The global smartphone brand Vivo announced its agreement with International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) to sponsor the FIFA World Cup for six years, covering two tournament cycles.

FIFA reportedly secured the vital financial support of the smartphone maker in a US$ 450 million (EUR 400m) sponsorship deal. According to people in the know cited by Financial Times, Vivo will pay about EUR 60m-- EUR 70m a year to sponsor tournaments run by FIFA until the 2022 cup in Qatar. FIFA has in the past lost several big-time sponsors, such as Sony and Emirates, when their contracts expired.

Vivo, which is the sponsor of the recently-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) and the ongoing Pro-Kabaddi League in India, has been presented as FIFA’s official smartphone sponsor under an agreement that will cover the next two editions in 2018 and 2022. As one of the world's largest sporting events, the FIFA World Cup has tremendous influence and worldwide coverage. Apart from IPL and PKL, Vivo’s previous involvement in sport includes a strategic partnership with the NBA to become NBA China’s official mobile handset sponsor.

Vivo became FIFA's twelfth sponsor for the 2018 World Cup. Before the previous tournament in Brazil, FIFA had 20 corporate partners on board, which supported payment of of US$ 2bn cost of running the event.

The announcement was made in Beijing at the historical and iconic Imperial Ancestral Temple in the presence of Vivo executive vice-president Ni Xudong and FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura. Vivo's persistent focus on constant improvement was attractive to organizers of the FIFA World Cup. Vivo became the third Chinese company to sponsor the World Cup in 2017-18 after Wanda and Hisense.

Vivo will sponsor the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups as well as the FIFA Confederations Cup. The global reach of this partnership is set to take Vivo to new heights. The Vivo logo will appear during every match on pitch advertising boards, match tickets, media releases and other key promotional platforms. The agreement includes special marketing activations such as the right to select guests to be a Vivo phone photographer during pre-match player warm-ups. Vivo will also gradually introduce a customised FIFA World Cup phone that will offer a unique experience for football fans around the world.

Xudong explained: “Football is a sport full of passion and moments of wonder, creating happiness for millions of people. The spirit of football is about constant progress. As a global sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, Vivo hopes to strongly associate itself with the football spirit and show consumers all over the world Vivo’s creative, joyful and international brand image. In the meantime, Vivo will bring more personalised, energetic and youthful elements to the FIFA World Cup experience and the game of football.”

Samoura said: “Football and technology are coming closer by the day, on and off the pitch, and it is a great moment to start a partnership of this nature with the leading global smartphone brand. We are very excited to be working closely with Vivo and keen to see their involvement in the next editions of the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup.” Samoura told the FT that seeking and pocketing sponsorship was not an easy business anywhere, but to have China as the partner for the third time in a year showed that football was a global sport and that China would be an important client.

FIFA rights include special marketing programs such as the right to invite guests to be Vivo phone photographers during pre-match player warm-ups. Later, Vivo will introduce a customised FIFA World Cup phone to offer a one of a kind experience for Vivo consumers and football fans. Additionally, FIFA staff will use Vivo smart phones on-site and the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017, which will begin on 17 June, marks the start of Vivo and FIFA's cooperation.

Sports marketing: From 2014, Vivo began to expand into markets in Southeast Asia and other regions. Deploying localized product and marketing strategies, Vivo saw rapid growth, and was strongly embraced by local consumers. Vivo has continued to invest in R&D, and established seven major research centers across China and the United States. Vivo has also used sports marketing to increase brand awareness in international markets.

In 2015, Vivo became the title sponsor of the Indian Premier League (IPL), a sporting association that is highly influential in British Common Wealth countries and India. In 2016 Vivo started a strategic partnership with NBA China as its Official Mobile Handset Sponsor, inviting NBA superstar Stephen Curry to become the product ambassador for Vivo's flagship Xplay6. As sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, Vivo seeks to earn itself even more attention on the international stage.

According to FIFA's annual reports, revenues from commercial and marketing deals related to the 2018 World Cup were US$ 246m in 2015, down from $404m in 2013. The lack of sponsors, alongside legal costs related to corruption probes, contributed to FIFA making a $369m loss in 2016.

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