Chinese Internet giant Tencent uses mega-sports-stars to promote its messaging app to the World
“That the impact of your army may be like a grindstone dashed against an egg—this is effected by the science of weak points and strong.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The Big Guns: Sports Celebrity Endorsement
Chinese instant messaging app WeChat has begun a series of aggressive advertising attacks towards Western markets, using the World’s biggest sports personalities as its arsenal.
Earlier this month, Tencent – the Internet giant behind the app – produced a single ad featuring football superstar Lionel Messi, targeted to 15 different markets and featured both online and offline.
Today, merely two weeks later, the company sent an official announcement to its 600 million total users (across other platforms QQ, Weibo, QZone), the arrival on WeChat of who’s arguably the NBA’s most popular current player: Lebron James. This is a result of the deal Tencent struck with the athlete in June, to sponsor their video game series NBA 2K and to manage his social media accounts in China.
WeChat Goes Global – Watch Out West
Two plays – using the biggest and best sports stars of the modern era as its ambassadors.
Global social networks, watch out as this means war.
Sports wins consumers hearts: Football Teams on WeChat
There are further examples of the trend of internationally recognized stars embracing WeChat with European football teams: Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and, most recently, Tottenham Hotspur. The platform-craze will likely continue and grow exponentially as the hugely popular mobile social network takes the world by storm.
Currently counting 300 million users (70 million overseas), WeChat has until now focused primarily on business development in Asia: Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand, amongst others. However, strong of a growth 5 times faster than Facebook, WeChat seems now determined to become the primary instant messaging app in the World. And is using sports and celebrities to reach that objective. More than just an IM service, WeChat offers a series of social features that can make redundant Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the popular Whatsapp which it’s commonly compared too – however far from comparative. Wechat not only offers a fantastic social feature and it acts as a communication tool like no other. Mobile, immediate and targeted to closed circles of friends, it’s becoming the social network of choice in China, and we see no reason why it shouldn’t be the same in the rest of the World.
Are brands seizing the opportunity?
A large number of brands have recognized this, and have harnessed the power of WeChat for their marketing campaigns. From Starbucks the pioneers, to DELL and Nike, brands from all different industries are tapping into China’s latest marketing opportunity.
Global and mobile, WeChat has not only the potential to change how consumers communicate, with the introduction of voice messaging and closed photo sharing circles, but it has the power to revolutionize the way brands do business in China, and in the entire World, thanks to the introduction of mobile payment services announced on the People’s Daily in early June and a push towards O2O marketing.
Sports celebrities’ endorsement, football teams, viral videos, TV ads and offline promotion: Tencent is on a serious overseas expansion mission. Keep an eye out for what comes next.
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