Contributed by: Troy Thompson Wednesday, July 21 2010 @ 10:00 pm ACST
The AFL has launched a new Chinese website ahead of the first AFL match to be played in Shanghai between Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions in October. The Mandarin-speaking website, www.51afl.com[*1] ( translates to `I want AFL’) has already attracted more than 12,000 visitors in its first two weeks, with more than 10,000 visitors from mainland China.
The website will be used to help promote the Kaspersky Cup – AFL Shanghai Showdown between Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions at Jiangwan Stadium on October 17. Up to 10,000 people are expected to attend the match which coincides with World Expo.
"The AFL believes this is a highly innovative and effective way of generating interest and excitement in our game in China," AFL General Manager of Market Development, David Matthews, said. "We also think it's a great opportunity to learn new ways of connecting with an audience and it's an approach we may look at as we enter new markets such as Greater Western Sydney."
The website features promotion of the Melbourne-Lions clash, information on the rules, general news content and a section that focuses on information about Australia. It also promotes human interest stories written by local people who have experienced the game, and encourages viewers to comment and ask questions.
The AFL has engaged Shanghai based social media company Mailman to develop the site which is believed to be a first for sport in Australia.
Mailman CEO Andrew Collins said it would use Chinese social network sites to help drive visitors to www.51afl.com[*1] and generate interest in Australian football in the lead-up to October. "We create content, put it on the website and then we feed the content through social websites in China. Instead of pushing the game at them, we are creating conversations to connect with our audience,” he said.
The AFL has already launched a development program in schools in Shanghai to teach children the basic skills of the game and is in talks with the Shanghai Media Group about a live broadcast of the Kaspersky Cup in China. More than 2,500 international students attended the Melbourne-Brisbane Lions match at the MCG in April which was also broadcast live in Mandarin in local Chinese radio station, 3CW.
Last month China’s Vice President Mr Xi Jinping attended an AFL match between Carlton and Fremantle at Etihad Stadium during his official visit to Australia.