ZTE USA on Monday announced from Madison Square Garden that the company is the official smartphone sponsor of the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors for the 2014-15 season. ZTE is the fourth largest smartphone brand in the U.S., second largest in pre-paid and third in Android market share. The sponsorships are part of the company's plan to increase brand awareness and presence in the U.S.. We were on-site during the brief press conference. Watch our behind-the-scenes video.
What exactly does being the official smartphone of an NBA team mean? ZTE's brand will be promoted around the arenas, on the courts, and giant LED displays. About 600 million people pass by the LED sign outside Madison Square Garden annually, so it's a great venue to increase exposure. There will also be seat upgrades sponsored by ZTE for lucky fans.
Lixin Cheng, CEO of ZTE USA, says there won't be one specific smartphone that will be promoted as the official smartphone for the teams. It's more about promoting the brand itself. During the season, they may promote different models. If you recall, ZTE has recently launched the ZMAX for T-Mobile and Grand X Max for Cricket.
Tad Smith, president and CEO of The Madison Square Garden Company, says ZTE phones will be provided to the NBA players, but he did not say whether they are not obligated to use them. Special ZTE and Knicks-branded smartphones were presented to Legend Players of New York Knicks, John Starks and Earl Monroe at the press conference.
As part of the partnership, ZTE will also increase its commitment to local communities by supporting charitable initiatives such as the Rocket's Season of Giving, the Knick's Garden of Dreams, and the Warriors Community Phone Drive, where fans are encouraged to bring their old phones to donate to the Warriors' charity benefiting underserved youth in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Do you think the NBA sponsorships will help sell phones for ZTE? Sound off in the comments!