For Hisense Co., sponsorship makes good marketing sense.

Similar to Huawei Technologies Co., Haier Group, ZTE Corp. and other Chinese consumer electronics companies, Hisense is doubling down on sponsorship to build recognition outside of China.

The maker of flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, appliances and other products has dedicated the bulk of its sponsorship budget to tennis and motorsports, with soccer, marathons and festivals rounding out its portfolio.

Key markets include the U.S., Australia, Germany and South Africa.

Hisense this month announced its first tie in the U.S. market—title of the Feb. 28 NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The consumer electronics company entered motorsports in 2014 with a three-race sponsorship of the Lotus F1 team. The sponsorship afforded branding on sidepod panels at races in Australia, Italy and Abu Dhabi.

Hisense focuses on tennis in Australia. The company in 2008 took title of the Hisense Arena, a multi-purpose venue that is part of the National Tennis Center in Melbourne, Australia. Hisense in 2014 extended the original six-year sponsorship through 2017 and added ties to the Australian Open and two Emirates Australian Open Series tournaments: The Apia International Sydney and Brisbane International presented by Suncorp.

In addition, Hisense last year signed a multiyear sponsorship of Germany’s FC Schalke 04 soccer team and South Africa’s Cape Town Spring Marathon.

Additional NASCAR Deals Expected
Hisense aligned with NASCAR to build recognition and drive preference via an affiliation with an authentic sport with millions of followers.

“NASCAR is one of the country’s largest sports with brand-loyal fans,” said Dr. Lan Lin, executive vice president of Hisense Group and general manager of Hisense International Co., in a statement. “We are very excited about this important step towards establishing the Hisense brand in the U.S.”

Hisense aligned with the Atlanta Motor Speedway due in part to the track’s location. The company operates an R&D center in nearby Suwanee, Ga.

And additional deals in NASCAR are expected.

“The Atlanta Motor Speedway is Hisense’s initial investment in NASCAR. I fully expect we will secure additional rights,” said Jon Flack, global COO and president, Americas, with Just Marketing, Inc., Hisense’s motorsports agency of record.

Matthew Marsh, JMI senior vice president, spearheaded the business win out of the agency’s office in Hong Kong.  

Hisense aligned with NASCAR after seeing positive results with Lotus. The company credits the sponsorship with boosting awareness, favorability and intent to purchase, said Flack, whose firm used third-party research to track success.  

Hisense and JMI are finalizing activation strategy for the Hisense 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

“We’re expecting significant PR activity, an above-the-line campaign and a significant push to use their assets at retail,” said Flack, who expects the company to pay at least $1 on activation for every $1 in rights fees.

Hisense announced the sponsorship earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Demonstrating its commitment to motorsports, the company featured a driving simulator of the Lotus car at its on-site booth.

Hisense has not yet determined whether it will return to Lotus or any other F1 team in the 2015 season, said Flack.

Hisense sells through Best Buy, Canadian Tire, hhGregg, Walmart and other retailers across North America.

Activates Australian Open Via Facebook Promos
If this week’s Australian Open is any indication, social media will play a major role in future NASCAR activation. 

Hisense activated the Australian Open with the Live Like a Pro Facebook promotion that dangled a flight to the tournament, VIP tickets, the opportunity to toss the coin before a match, a one hour tennis lesson and other experiences.

Consumers had to purchase a Hisense Vision Smart TV to enter the promotion.  

Hisense ran another Facebook promotion that dangled tickets to the tournament. Consumers entered the contest by watching and sharing a video that highlighted Hisense’s new product display in the Hisense Arena. Entrants had to mention how many ultra high-defintion TVs are on display to enter the promotion.