The Cleveland Cavaliers are seeing the first benefits of being partly owned by Chinese investors after this week’s announcement that brewing giant Tsingtao have put pen to paper on a multi-year home court multi-million dollars advertising contract.
The deal with the Tsingtao Brewing Company is the first sign Cavaliers fans have seen of the influence of one of the fastest rising names in Chinese sport: Kenny HUANG Jianhua, a 46-year-old Chinese businessman who is leading the investment group buying a 15 percent share in the Cavaliers.
The net result is that the interest among China’s legion of NBA fans in the Cavaliers has grown to such an extent that 34 of the Cavs’ games this season are scheduled to be broadcast in the world’s biggest television market; hence, China’s leading global beer brand investing in a presence at all events at Cleveland’s Quickens Loan Arena.
“The Cavaliers are a leading name in the world’s leading league, and of course LeBron James is one of the world’s elite sports stars. To invest in an association with a franchise of that calibre is logical in terms of building our brand globally,” said Tsingtao’s President of Global Sales and Marketing Ms YAN Xu whose company has been making beer in the city now known as Qingdao for over 100 years.
But the relationship between Huang and Tsingtao goes further than the NBA. In September this year, Tsingtao also committed to another five-year deal, this time to donate 12 million Yuan (around US$1.75 million at current exchange rates) to the QSL China Youth Sports Development Fund that Huang started through his Chinese sports marketing vehicle QSL Sports Limited, a partnership formed with Adrian CHENG Chi-Kong of New World Development in July this year. The gift will contribute to the fund’s support of creating sports facilities at schools created by the Project Hope scheme, a public service project run by the China Youth Development Foundation, which aims to develop education in poverty-stricken rural areas of China.
The foundation and the brewers made the first significant allocation of funds this month when they awarded RMB2 million for the creation of sports facilities at Project Hope schools in Hunan province.
“There is no point in us growing Tsingtao as a global brand if we are not at the same time contributing to the overall growth of our nation and if we are not contributing to improving the lives of our poorest citizens. Project Hope brings hope in areas where hope was once forgotten, and sport is a great contributor to improving children’s feelings of self-worth,” said Yan.
Tsingtao’s year-one donation of RMB2.7 million was revealed by their president and CEO SUN Mingbo at a charity dinner hosted by QSL Sports Limited earlier in the Fall, where an elite group of 80 of China’s leading financial and business figures raised over US$1 million for the QSL Youth Sports Development Fund, which declares an overall goal of bringing “health” and “happiness” to the 15,000 schools Project Hope has created in Western and Central China.
This month’s announcement of the allocation for Hunan was made at a similar celebration function in the city of Changsha, where 300 guests contributed a total of RMB15 million.
“We’re using our expertise to bring together a wider network of like- minded people to focus on improving the emotional and physical wellbeing – the ‘health and happiness’ – of these youngsters,” said Adrian Cheng.
“It’s not just about making donations, it’s about creating a movement in our strata of society to create something with a genuine, long-lasting impact for a generation that won’t have the advantages we have had. These are kids with great potential, but they are growing up in areas that haven’t yet benefitted from China’s economic miracle,” added Cheng, whose latest project sees him masterminding the creation of K11, an innovative mall development in Hong Kong intended to become the nucleus of a cultural district.
Cheng and Huang chose sports facilities as one of the prime needs of the education system in China’s rural provinces after they discovered many schools lacked even the most fundamental elements.
“When we launched the fund in July not one of the 34 schools in a sample survey we conducted could meet the Ministry of Education’s minimum requirement for basic sports facilities. With just one exception, the schools could only conduct exercise classes through their public address system. We hope to rectify that as soon as possible and allow these children to taste the joy and freedom that sports can bring,” Huang explained.