By Barry Janoff
October 27, 2015: ZTE USA, which calls itself the fourth largest smartphone provider in the U.S. and second largest in the no-contract market, has hit the ground running in the new NBA season, signing deals with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls to become the official smartphone partner for both teams.
ZTE USA, headquartered in Richardson, Texas, and a subsidiary of China-based ZTE Corp., already has similar pact with the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Financial terms of the deals were not shared.
Last month, the company unveiled in China a special edition of its flagship Axon, a ZTE Axon Mini with NBA branding on it. That smartphone includes pre-installed NBA wallpapers and special NBA applications designed for the Chinese market.
The China launch actually foreshadowed its new NBA alliances as it featured seven different versions, one with the NBA logo on it and six others with different team logos on the back, including official team partners Cavaliers, Bulls, Warriors, Rockets and Knicks, as well as the Los Angeles Lakers, respectively.
In the U.S., ZTE said its strategy is to "expand its localized approach to build its presence in the U.S. from the consumer up by connecting with fans."
Marketing support will include Internet, social media, mobile, in-arena signage and fan activations and local appearances and autograph signings by players.
ZTE also said it would be the presenting sponsorship of the Cavaliers first Chinese New Year celebration, scheduled to take place around the Cavaliers’ Feb. 8, 2016 game in Cleveland vs. the Sacramento Kings.
In addition, ZTE said it would support "large local community events such as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Season of Giving along with several others throughout the season," similar to activation it does with other NBA partners.
“We’re excited to announce ZTE as the Smartphone Partner of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the coming season and beyond,” Len Komoroski, CEO for the Cavaliers, said in a statement. “Our fans have shown they love the latest in technology features and use them to follow the team, so we have no doubt that this new partnership with ZTE will resonate well here in Cleveland.”
According to Michael Reinsdorf, Bulls president and COO, “The partnership between the Chicago Bulls and ZTE marks another significant step in the team’s international business growth. ZTE is a leader in the smartphone industry and it is exciting to welcome a new partner in that category. We look forward to working with ZTE to engage our fans and support meaningful community events and initiatives.”
ZTE said its strategy is to "expand its localized approach to build its presence in the U.S. from the consumer up by connecting with fans."
ZTE said it added the Cavaliers and Bulls as partners "after seeing great success in building loyal consumers with NBA fans in Houston, New York and Northern California."
According to Lixin Cheng, chairman and CEO forf ZTE USA. “To facilitate conversations, we will go straight to the source and improve our products and services from the ground up. To provide consumers with the best possible smartphone experience, we need to connect with them on a local level.”
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