SBD/October 7, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Rockets Partner With Chinese Smartphone Brand ZTE, With Chandler Parsons To Endorse

The Rockets on Saturday announced that China-based smartphone maker ZTE now is the "official smartphone" of the team, which will "feature the company's branding and products prominently during Rockets games, complete with signage and kiosks in Toyota Center," according to Dwight Silverman of HOUSTON CHRONICLE. ZTE "has a higher profile in Asian markets" and the partnership comes as the company "begins selling two unlocked, Android smartphones for the U.S. market." The deal marks ZTE’s first corporate sponsorship in the U.S. Rockets F Chandler Parsons also has "signed an endorsement deal" with the company. The Rockets since drafting Yao Ming in '02 have been "aggressive about marketing" themselves both to Asians living in the U.S. and overseas. ZTE USA Chair & CEO Lixin Cheng on Saturday acknowledged that this was "one reason why his company had partnered with the Rockets." But Cheng added that Houston is "the biggest market in the U.S. for the carrier-branded phones made by ZTE" (CHRON.com, 10/6). ADWEEK's Christopher Heine reported ZTE "will appear via digital ads, social media, email, TV, in-game activations and out-of-home billboards" under the deal. Parsons "will post on his social media pages for the brand while making several public appearances." The team's Facebook and Twitter accounts also will "push the brand" throughout the '13-14 season (ADWEEK.com, 10/5).
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