Chinese firm sponsors…. Australian rugby league team?

Chinese TV and electronics brand Changhong has announced a one-year shirt sponsorship deal with Australian rugby league team Parramatta Eels. Changhong’s first major sports sponsorship will see the company’s logo appear on the back of the Eels’ playing jerseys for the 2013 National Rugby League (NRL) season. The Changhong name will also appear on the goal posts at the Eels’ 20,000-capacity Parramatta Stadium as well as signage around the ground. As you might expect, there will also be Changhong TVs all over the venue.

Mike Cacciola, director of sales and marketing at Changhong, which has its global headquarters in Mianyang, Sichuan, said this was the first step in a long process to introduce Australians to the Changhong brand. Throughout the year, Changhong will be releasing new ranges of Smart and Ultra HD TVs, refrigerators and air conditioners. Cacciola said Changhong’s target market was Parramatta supporters in Sydney’s western suburbs.

Whereas a company like Taikang Life Insurance sponsoring Li Na might be considered groundbreaking, other similar companies, including Chinese brands Haier and Hisense and Korean firms Samsung and LG, have all partnered with Aussie rugby league teams in the past, so while this may be new to Changhong, the company is travelling down a fairly well-trodden path.

Parramatta will have at least four home games broadcast free-to-air on Channel Nine this year, and likely more if the club does well, but don’t hold your breath: the Eels’ finished last season bottom of the NRL table.

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