Wimbledon targets China after Far East falls for Downton Abbey

 

In China, Downton Abbey is already a national obsession. So why can’t Wimbledon become the next great British export to the Far East?

The All English Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) is using this year’s tournament to launch a drive to lure China’s increasingly wealthy middle class to a sport which lags behind ping pong in national popularity.

The AELTC is using social media to sell the 137-year-old event to emerging markets. Wimbledon’s digital team has begun posting on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, in Chinese.

Michael Desmond, AELTC commercial director, said: “We’re looking to extend our brand geographically and the prospects in China are huge because of their large, growing middle class and our media partners out there.”

The AELTC will use Weibo to share video updates, such as David Beckham arriving in the Royal Box, as well as scores. Li Na, China’s most famous player, has recorded a video interview, introducing Wimbledon to new viewers in her country.

Desmond said: “We want the audience to understand the heritage of the brand - they may not be aware of the nuances such as why the players wear white and the work we do maintaining the beauty of the grounds. We’ll position Wimbledon as a luxury experience in association with Rolex, our official timekeeper.”

Badminton, basketball and table tennis have dominated in China, which has focused on the traditional Olympic disciplines. Whilst Na is the number two Ladies’ seed and a double Grand Slam champion, there are no Chinese men in the Wimbledon singles after Zhang Ze, the world 205, failed to qualify.

Chinese tennis faces a potential crisis without enough elite new talent emerging to replace the veterans, say observers.

The AELTC club is also targeting a new Japanese audience through Facebook and is working to extend its brand awareness in India and Brazil.

The success of Downton Abbey, said to enjoy 160 million viewers, has helped British film, television, music and digital firms gain a foothold in China.

BBC Worldwide, Pinewood Studios, Universal Music Group and EON, the James Bond producers, attended a major trade forum for media companies in Qingdao last month.

David Cameron presented Chinese premier Li Keqiang with a copy of the shooting script for the first episode of Downton Abbey, signed by the show's creator, during his visit to Britain last week. Li had expressed interest in visiting Highclere Castle where the drama is shot.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering