A Yingli Solar plant in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province. (File photo/Xinhua)
China's Yingli Solar is banking on its sponsorship deal for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to boost sales after posting losses over the past three years, reports the Beijing-based China Economic Weekly.
Yingli Solar, the world's largest manufacturer of solar power modules, has been struggling to turn a profit after the sector entered a downturn in 2010. Though the firm has risen to the top spot in the market, its losses pose a sharp contrast as several of its domestic rivals turned profits in 2013, the magazine said.
Yingli Solar first became involved with the World Cup in 2006, when its products were used in the Fritz-Walter-Stadium in Germany, which remains to be the world's largest solar power unit on the rooftop of a soccer stadium.
The company further benefited from its decision to become an official sponsor of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, after it gained more recognition from the exposure on the pitch.
According to Bryan Li, an executive director at Yingli Solar, the company received orders for its products totaling four gigawatts during the Intersolar Europe trade fair in Munich in June that year, when the total installed capacity of solar power units around the world stood at only 10 gigawatts.
Yingli Solar is even more involved in this year's event, the magazine said, as the company has provided 27 solar power units for all Brazilian cities that will host the games, as well as solar power charging stations at the main media hub and media centers at six stadiums.
Sports marketing is important for the solar power industry, which like soccer goes beyond borders, Yingli Solar chairman Miao Liansheng told the magazine.
Meanwhile, Judy Tzeng Lee, vice president of global marketing at Yingli Solar, explained that the fee for the four-year sponsorship deal, which was paid in advance when the company was still profitable, was money well spent, even though the company declined to disclose the exact amount, citing rules of the world soccer governing body FIFA.
Li said the World Cup provides a platform that quickly exposed Yingli Solar to consumers in emerging markets, while Judy Tzeng Lee said that the company's reason to choose soccer was based on the sport being popular in its existing markets and the markets it plans to move towards.