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Chinese Company Faces $11.8 Million Bill Thanks to France’s World Cup Win

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France’s victory at the World Cup 2018 in Russia will have been watched with mixed emotions in at least one corner of China. Back in early June, kitchen appliance maker Vatti promised customers a full refund on any purchase of their “championship set” over the course of the month if les bleus were to triumph at the tournament.

Photo of the Day: The France Team Helping Chinese Consumers (Maybe) Get Free Kitchen Appliances

What may have seemed like a fairly harmless publicity stunt back then has now saddled the Chinese firm with a bill of around 79 million RMB (11.8 million USD) — although the terms and conditions of the deal, plus the wave of attention its garnered, could still see Vatti come out on top.

The “championship sets” being sold as part of the offer included a gas cooker and extractor fan, and cost 4,999RMB each according to Caixin. The company reportedly saw a 20% surge in offline sales and a 30% growth in online business thanks to the campaign. Caixin goes on to note that:

The company said that the cost of the special refund campaign would be “controllable,” in part because it is sharing that cost. The Guangdong-based company stipulated ahead of the tournament that all refund costs for products purchased at off-line outlets would be covered by franchisees. Vatti itself would be responsible only for online-purchase refunds, which represent about 37% of total refund costs.

However, some Vatti franchisees were already experiencing financial difficulties before the potential cost of the refund campaign. On June 29, near the end of the World Cup campaign, a Guangdong province court seized assets from its Beijing and Tianjin distributors after the legal representative behind both franchises disappeared for more than 10 days.

It probably wasn’t only Croatia fans watching with despair as Didier Deschamps’ team romped to victory in the final last night then.

Meanwhile, according to a Weibo post from business news site DSB, more than 100 companies in China have attempted to trademark “Mbappé” or the young French talisman’s Chinese name 姆巴佩 (“mu ba pei”) following his star turn at the tournament. In the past six days, 137 such applications have been made to the national copyright authorities, DSB reported, including everything from sports clubs to internet bars to, err, fertilizer companies.

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