CJ hopes PGA tournament will help boost Bibigo

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CJ hopes PGA tournament will help boost Bibigo

CJ Group is betting that its upcoming PGA Tour tournament in Jeju will help spread the recognition of its food brand Bibigo and the conglomerate itself across the globe.

The CJ Cup, Korea’s first PGA Tour competition, is one of Asia’s three regular PGA Tour tournaments. The Cup, which kicks off on Oct. 18, is entering its second year. CJ signed a 10-year agreement to sponsor the event last year.

The conglomerate held a press event Tuesday evening in central Seoul to look back at last year’s achievements and share details about the upcoming tournament.

“Many statistics of The CJ Cup last year proved to be favorable, considering it was our first time hosting the event,” said Kyeong Wook-ho, executive vice president and head of CJ Group’s marketing division.

According to the company, the tournament was viewed in 227 countries and created media value of 166.8 billion won, based on the Nielsen’s evaluation of TV exposure and news articles that covered the event.

Over 35,000 spectators came to Jeju to watch the games, which Kyeong said is a significant figure, considering the additional expenses that it takes to book flights and accommodation.

One major ongoing goal for CJ in regards to the PGA Tour is raising awareness of its Bibigo brand among consumers worldwide. Bibigo is a food brand under the group’s subsidiary CJ CheilJedang that specializes in selling ready-made Korean dishes.

“When I went around recruiting players to take part in the tournament last year, I had to start with introducing CJ,” said Kyeong. “One thing that changed this year is that a lot of the players remembered us first in a favorable way, especially for the good food.”

Bibigo is the main sponsor of The CJ Cup, and last year it set up catering booths throughout the tournament and sent its chefs to prepare food at the Gala Dinner for players and VIPs. CJ CheilJedang plans to continue to increase its exposure to a global viewership through the event, including a television ad campaign that will air in between the games.

“Our large goal is to sell Korean food around the globe but one practical challenge for this is the expansion of distribution channels,” said Son Eun-kyung, a market executive at CJ CheilJedang at Tuesday’s press event. “I believe the exposure during the global sports event helped solidify relations with global retailers like Costco [that already sell Bibigo] and other brands that Bibigo started sales this year like Albertsons and Safeway.”

The food company has been active in acquiring foreign manufacturing facilities to make Bibigo a global brand for Korean food. Frozen dumplings have been its most successful product overseas so far. Bibigo is the No.1 instant dumpling by market share in the United States, where the company is aiming to succeed.

“Dishes similar in form to dumplings exist in almost every country. This is why it’s safe to sell them abroad,” said Son. “Our next step is to move on to ready-made dishes of bibimbap or bulgogi with rice.” CJ’s goal for Bibigo is to raise 1.9 trillion won in annual sales by 2020, and hopes that more than 50 percent of the sales will come from overseas.

The CJ Cup will be held between Oct. 18 and 21 at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island, a golf course owned by the conglomerate. A total of 78 players will compete, including last year’s champion Justin Thomas. The prize money for the winners will total $9.5 million.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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