Chinese solar player Yingli looks to score at World Cup

February 4, 2010

worldcupChinese solar power companies have shone amid the downturn in the solar industry,  converting their low cost advantage into bigger market share and profits.

Now, China’s Yingli Green Energy Holding Co Ltd is making a play to raise its global profile.  It’s taking its solar panels to the world’s biggest sporting event, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and has signed up to help sponsor the event.

The news makes Yingli the first renewable energy company to sponsor the World Cup — where the world’s best football (or soccer for U.S. fans) teams compete —  as well as the first Chinese company to seal a global sponsorship deal with FIFA, the world’s governing body for football.

(The Wold Cup this year, coincidentally, is in South Africa, which announced last year government support for solar akin to solar incentives in Germany, the world’s largest market.)

The move reflects Yingli’s desire to increase its brand awareness. And that could pay off, Piper Jaffray analyst Jesse Pichel says.

“With a minimal investment, (Yingli) will be able to leverage the FIFA marketing machine, the Yingli brand will catch millions of viewers’ eyes, sitting side by side with the most powerful consumer brands in the world like Coca Cola, Adidas, and Sony, and (Yingli) will further improve its bankability,” Pichel said in a note.

Some solar power companies — such as Silicon Valley-based SunPower Corp — already have branding and marketing campaigns targeted at consumers.

We were wondering whether readers think Yingli’s move with the World Cup will push more solar players into the marketing field, and how key will that be in an industry that wants to drive down costs?

(Photo credit: Indonesian Football Association chief Nurdin Halid gestures beside the FIFA World Cup trophy in Jakarta. The trophy arrived in Jakarta in January as part of its world tour. Photo credit: Crack Palinggi / Reuters) 

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