The celebrity and sports business operates very differently in China compared to Western countries. In the West, the emphasis is on the talent and technical capabilities of celebrity, singers are appreciated for their voice, soccer players for their footwork, dancers for their flexibility and harmony. In China, it is the personality, mentality and style of the celebrity that will play on its popularity with the Chinese audience. The star must also know how to surround himself with people who will guide him on the use of Chinese social networks, because in China everything is done by digital …

China is surely the most connected country in the world, with an average of more than three hours spent surfing the web or scanning the newsfeeds of their various applications. So visibility on the web is very important for personality wishing to stand out on the Chinese market. This applies to the stars of all types of industry from painting to sports to song.

Personal branding, the key for soccer players

The most important thing on the Chinese market is to successfully sell your personality and career as a brand. To go in this direction, the creation of an account on the most popular platforms in China like WeChat and Weibo is a good start. Accounts on Western digital entities like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, are of little help to players looking to gain visibility in China.

Chinese social media will allow players to target a large user segment and thus significantly increase their visibility. The advantage when entering this market is that the Chinese are big fans of foreign players. Furthermore, few players when they entered the Chinese market have tried to work on their personal branding.

The most reasonable approach in China is not to bet on the technical aspect of the talent, but more on the notoriety which results from it.

Product placement

In China, becoming a star requires taking on the role of a KOL (key opinion leader). The KOL are influential personalities of the net. They have generally been successful because of their content and over time. Brands have been increasingly interested in this type of personality seeing the engagement generated with users of these networks. It is in this context that KOL product placements and strategies were born.

Footballers wanting to gain influence in the Chinese market must seize this dynamic and take advantage of it. Generally, footballers are profiles sought by companies to promote fitness products, video games, Tech products (computer phones, tablets, etc.). Witness the campaigns below of the two international players Messi and Neymar who participated respectively in advertising campaigns for Oppo, Huawei and Wechat.

Neymar, face of the campaign for the new phones of the Oppo brand
Messi, face of the campaign for the new Huawei brand phones
Messi muse of the number 1 social network campaign in China: WeChat

Successful communication can lead to the building of a community loyal and loyal to the footballer, his profession and also to his club.

Zidane on Weibo was a hit

The latest to want to launch into the Chinese market, Zidane at the end of 2018 at the invitation of the sportswear brand Adidas in China, decided to launch its own Weibo account.

It is important when launching your account to show a particular interest in the chinese culture, Zidane understood this and wanted to show his attraction for the activities offered by the country.

Meet the star Angelababy, tea ceremony, and visit cultural places, Zidane tries everything!

Zidane is not the first to rub shoulders with the biggest influence market in the world, other international footballers like David Beckham or Paul Pogba have managed to gain popularity. Zidane, Beckam and Pogba, respectively 190K followers, 6M followers and 4M followers have become market specialists.

Their secret?

Share with their follower a personal part of their life, to create a special bond with their community and the feeling of being part of the same group. The Chinese, notably due to the culture of “guanxi”, tend to put the social before the business. Thus sharing their family, their passion with their followers, makes them more appreciated by users of their social networks.

The objective of these Stars (or their agents) is to find sponsors in China

Chinese companies you understand are fond of Western stars for their branding. The agents of the smartest soccer players have understood this, and bet on personal branding at first, then it is easier then to be contacted by the big Chinese brands which pay 5 times the price to pay a celebrity .

More information on sponsors in China in this article.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me, or leave a comment.