New York – Chinese cellphone maker ZTE expanded its NBA partnership with the announcement that it will become the official smartphone sponsor of the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors.
The announcement extends the Rockets’ partnership for another year. ZTE was the Rockets official smartphone sponsor for the 2013-14 NBA season, marking ZTE’s first corporate partnership in the world.
For the Knicks partnership, Madison Square Garden will promote the ZTE name on large LED signs outside the venue and offer in-game visibility in and around the court, Madison Square Garden Company president Tad Smith said during a press conference at the Garden. The signage will also appear in time for the Knicks home opener on Wednesday.
ZTE USA president/CEO Lixin Cheng noted that 600 million people pass by the Garden annually and will see the ZTE name promoted on the venue’s exterior LED signs. In-venue signage will be visible on television during the NBA All-Star game that the Garden is hosting.
ZTE and MSG Company will also discuss the potential for retail promotions, said Ron Skotarczak, executive VP of marketing partnerships for MSG Company. Advertising and promotion outside of the MSG venue are a possibility, Cheng agreed.
Also as part of the partnership with the three NBA teams, Richardson, Texas-based ZTE will support charitable initiatives such as the Rocket’s Season of Giving, the Knick’s Garden of Dreams, and the Warriors Community Phone Drive. In the latter initiative, fans are encouraged to bring their old phones to donate to the Warriors’ charity benefiting underserved youth in the San Francisco Bay Area.
ZTE said it is the fourth largest smartphone brand in the U.S., the second largest in the U.S. pre-paid market, and third in Android market share and plans to continue building its presence in the U.S. with more branded devices. The company already sells 56 devices through U.S. carriers and focuses on what it calls “affordable premium” smartphones.