Korean companies kick off World Cup promotions

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Korean companies kick off World Cup promotions


As a wave of excitement sweeps the country ahead of the start of the 2014 World Cup in less than three weeks, companies are increasing their marketing activities to benefit from the sporting event.

Official sponsors of the World Cup, such as McDonald’s Korea, will shift their promotions into high gear as will retailers, food and beverage manufacturers and electronics companies that wish to recover sales that fell in the wake of the April 16 Sewol ferry sinking.

The Korean national team will play its first match on June 18 against Russia at 7 a.m., Korea time, and its second game against Algeria on June 23 at 4 a.m. Its third match will be against Belgium on June 27 at 5 a.m. Even before the tournament begins, local television manufacturers and retailers have seen an increase in sales of big-screen TVs.

According to E-Mart, a local discount store owned by Shinsegae Group, sales of televisions at its stores nationwide from May 1 to 19 were up 41.2 percent compared to the same period last year. Sales of TVs with 46-inch screens or bigger surged 112.6 percent in the same period. Sales of big-screen televisions over that period made up 70 percent of total TV sales, according to E-Mart.

To carry the momentum, E-Mart began selling televisions at a discount on Thursday. At its stores, the retailer has set aside an area for TVs created by Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics with functions tailored for watching World Cup football games. E-Mart said that the TVs will be sold during the World Cup at a discount of up to 20 percent and buyers will get a 500,000 won ($488) Shinsegae Department Store gift certificate.

“Sales of TVs last year slowed down because there were hardly any sports events,” said Kim Sun-hyuk, an E-Mart employee. “This year, sales are already on an increase with the World Cup coming up and also the wedding season.”

Lotte Hi-Mart, a local retailer of electronic goods, is giving a raffle ticket to customers who purchase a TV at one of its stores. If the national team makes it to the top 16, the store will give a gift worth 100 million won to the raffle winner.

Local breweries are also hoping the sporting event will increase their sales. So far, they have been cautious of holding aggressive marketing events as the nation continues to mourn the Sewol disaster. Beer makers have started low-key marketing campaigns for the World Cup, for example, by introducing a limited-edition beer with the event’s logo printed on it.

As an official sponsor of the World Cup, Oriental Brewery has introduced the Cass Fresh World Cup special package. The cans and bottles feature a picture of the FIFA World Cup trophy.

“This is an opportunity for us to make known the values of Cass - youth, passion and a challenging mind - to consumers,” said an official from OB.

Its rival, Hite-Jinro, which is the official sponsor of the Korean national team, has also introduced two special packages. It is selling a limited 120,000 cases of canned and bottled beer with photos of players Son Heung-min, Lee Chung-yong and Ki Sung-yeung. A case of beer cans contains 24 355-milliliter (12-ounce) cans while a case of bottled beer contains 12 500-milliliter bottles.

Lotte Liquor has also joined the competition by giving out cheering towels to the first 1,000 customers who buy more than 50,000 won worth of Carmen or Santa Rita wines at nationwide Lotte and Hyundai department stores.

Food manufactures are also implementing marketing activities.

McDonald’s Korea has two new menu items - the Samba Beef Burger and Latin BLT Muffin - which will be sold through July 20. Samlip General Foods has introduced new bread packaging printed with a message to cheer on the national team.

Nongshim, a leading instant noodle maker, has shaped the crabmeat that goes inside its Sabalmyun bowl of noodles like a football. Nongshim chose the noodles for its main marketing tool because the Korean team’s matches are played early in the morning. Nongshim has also printed a football on the packages of five of its other snacks.

Sports brands are engaging in more direct marketing. Adidas is an official sponsor of the Brazil World Cup and has released a football boot called Battle Pack, which will be worn by top players including Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Oscar (Chelsea FC), Son (Bayer Leverkusen) and Koo Ja-cheol (FC Mainz). Also, starting tomorrow, Nike Sportswear said it will begin selling its Nike FC Collection, which is a new version of the N98 men’s jacket that Ronaldo from the Brazilian team wore in 1998.

BY CHAE YOON-KYUNG AND LEE EUN-JOO [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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