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Date: 10 November 2020 Author: Łukasz Kobierski
AliExpress Sponsors a Polish Soccer Team
AliExpress, a Chinese e-commerce giant, signed a sponsorship agreement with the Polish soccer team Lech Poznań, as announced at the end of October 2020. This is the first sports marketing partnership worldwide for this company from the Middle Kingdom.
AliExpress and Lech Poznań signed a marketing agreement which will last until June 2021. Under the contract, the sponsor’s logo will appear on the shorts of the players of the first team. Furthermore, advertisements of the Chinese company will be run in the stadium during league games. Additionally, fans from Poznań will receive discount codes, among others, during the AliExpress sale on Singles’ Day (光棍节) on November 11.
Launched in 2010, AliExpress is a global retail online marketplace of manufacturers and distributors, primarily China-based. It is owned by Alibaba Group, which has the sixth-highest global brand valuation (720 billion dollars), being ahead of, for instance, Facebook. Alibaba Group was recognized as the 31st largest public company in the world on the Forbes’ 2020 Global 2000 list. Moreover, it was ranked as the fifth largest company dealing with artificial intelligence in 2020. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s co-founder, was the Executive Chairman of the Alibaba Group until September 10, 2019. Ma is the global ambassador of Chinese business, and was named among the Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful People list (21st place).
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“Poland is one of our leading markets in Europe, and soccer is a national sport for Poles. We want the cooperation with Lech Poznań to symbolize our commitment to the Polish market. Lech is an ambitious team, committed to youth development and representing Poland in the Europa League this year. We will be looking at ways to integrate e-commerce, content and digitalization into the partnership over the coming season. Starting with our Singles’ Day campaign in November,” said Gary Topp, CEO of AliExpress for Central and Eastern Europe.
This fall, Lech Poznań is the only Polish club to represent the country in the group stage of European cups. Karol Klimczak, President of the Management Board of Lech Poznań, said that negotiations with AliExpress began long before they won the Polish vice championship and qualified for the group phase of the Europa League. The club is satisfied with the new sponsor. The amount of funds raised was not made public, although it might be greater than the usual marketing contract.
Though the duration of the contract is short, it may still be considered impressive. One should wonder why the Chinese company has decided to advertise itself in such a way in Poland. First of all, it might be an attempt to improve the image of the Middle Kingdom and build a kind of “soft power.” AliExpress may follow the example of Russian Gazprom, which, in order to improve the image of Moscow, invested in advertising during large mass events, including sports events, such as the UEFA Champions League. Secondly, Poland is a fairly large and future-oriented market with a growing trend in e-commerce for the Chinese company. The wider recognition of AliExpress by Polish citizens may increase its turnover. Thirdly, if the sponsoring model, which will be tested in Poland, brings the assumed benefits, it should be expected to be implemented in other countries of our region.
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