ZTE, Houston Rockets blast off promo deal

Updated: 2014-03-10 12:04

By May Zhou in Houston (China Daily USA)

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ZTE USA CEO Cheng Lixin and a few of his associates came down to Houston from their Dallas headquarters and spent the entire weekend joining thousands of local basketball players and fans for the city's 10th annual Blacktop Battle tournament.

The popular two-day event, hosted by the Houston Rockets and presented by ZTE USA, was conducted on the streets surrounding the Toyota Center and had a complete festival atmosphere. It attracted more than 1,000 amateur players to participate in the tournament and thousands of spectators.

On Saturday, Houston Rockets players Chandler Parsons, James Harden, Patrick Beverley, Greg Smith and Francisco Garcia also showed up at the event to cheer on and judge the players, along with ZTE CEO Cheng Lixin.

Cheng came to Houston Friday night to watch the Rockets play the Indiana Pacers. The Rockets won by a big margin and Cheng took that as a good omen not only for the Rockets, but also for ZTE.

"It's just like what we said when Rockets CEO Ted Brown and I announced our partnership last October," Cheng said. "We were both rising teams in our respective industries, and we were in a win-win partnership."

The Blacktop Battle tournament is aimed at fostering young basketball players. It also serves as a scouting and first-round selection of potential players for the US 2016 Olympic team.

"We are happy to sponsor this important event," Cheng said. "It represents our ongoing pledge to serve the communities in which we live and work."

Five months after partnering with the Rockets, Cheng said that most of their vision for the partnership had been realized.

Cheng emphasized that ZTE's goal is to provide premium phones at affordable prices.

To achieve this, ZTE employs the strategy of working from and focusing on the grassroots and community level, and so far the Rockets have proved to be an effective vehicle for that.

"Since last October, when we started with the Rockets, we have been focusing on the Houston area, working with Rockets fans and passing along benefits to the community in order to increase awareness of the ZTE brand," Cheng explained.

Cheng says the strategy is working. "We recently launched our first phablet in the US and it is designed for no contract subscribers. This phablet has been the number one bestselling phone-tablet with Sprint - according to their own data," Cheng said.

ZTE currently has a three-year contract with the Rockets, with annual option of renewal or termination each year. "We both enjoy this partnership and I do believe we will continue it next year," Cheng said.

Nick Kermally, a representative from one of ZTE's partners of two years, Prime Communications, said ZTE accounts for a 75-percent share of their sold prepaid phones right now. "Since the beginning of the two years, we have been moving more ZTE products," he said.

After the tournament, Chandler Parsons, a ZTE-sponsored player and ZTE's ambassador from the Rockets, went to ZET's tent with Cheng to meet the fans. Personable and with a gentle demeanor, Parsons attracted a large crowd, who enjoyed trivia games, autograph signings and a prize-drawing with both Parsons and Cheng.


ZTE, Houston Rockets blast off promo deal

(China Daily USA 03/10/2014 page1)