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  • Writer's pictureRasmus Bengtsen

Building awareness and creating offline visibility through a stylish cup of coffee

Updated: 5 days ago

Ever wondered what sports and coffee have in common?

At first glance, it may seem worlds apart. Yet, the renowned Danish sports brand hummel has sparked intrigue by collaborating with the Chinese coffee brand abcPlayer Coffee. This union merges the vitality of sportswear with the comforting charm of coffee, forming a fusion that resonates with the evolving cultural landscape in China. Explore the story behind this partnership and discover the connections between sports and coffee in the dynamic Chinese market.

Group of people advertising for hummel and abc player coffee

Facts About the Coffee Culture in China

  • Rapid Growth: China's coffee industry grows annually at 9.63%, boasting a market value of USD 14.2 billion.

  • Demographic Shift: Coffee consumption has surged among urban youth, signaling a modern lifestyle shift.

  • Expanding Market: 58% growth in branded coffee shops in 2023, totaling 49,691 shops nationwide.

  • Fierce Competition: Intense rivalry between local and foreign coffee chains due to rising demand.

  • Social Media Impact: Successful coffee franchises leverage platforms like Weibo, WeChat, Douyin, and Xiaohongshu for marketing and consumer engagement.

Finding Common Ground in Sports and Coffee Culture

As China undergoes this cultural change, more brands see the potential of this growing market, and we see more and more collaborations with coffee shops and other brands. LEAF Digital have helped hummel create awareness and offline visibility through coffee by setting up the partnership with abcPlayer Coffee. Let’s dig deeper into the dynamics of these kinds of collaborations as a powerful marketing technique and how to utilize social media in the branding.


In the unexpected partnership of sports and coffee, hummel and abcPlayer Coffee was a perfect match in their recent collaboration for autumn and winter. This partnership serves a dual purpose:


  1. For hummel, it was an opportunity to expand brand awareness, deepen urban sports, and outdoor culture while advocating an active and healthy lifestyle.

  2. For abcPlayer, it was an opportunity to get inspired by coffee and community culture, making coffee-drinking more diverse and imaginative.

Their collaboration goes beyond the usual, aiming to break through limits and always explore, bringing new life to the city's playfulness. This unique pairing not only bridges the gap between sports and coffee culture but also exemplifies the strategic effects of collaborations as a dynamic marketing strategy in China's evolving consumer landscape.

Young people with hummel coffee

The Smallest Unit of Freedom

We have issued the collaboration around a running event called “Enjoy freedom and start to run now” (享自由 此刻开RUN). Spearheaded by abcPlayer and infused with elements from hummel's autumn and winter sportswear collection, the event encapsulates the essence of:

"Interacting with the city and exploring the charm of winter streets," "Feeling the natural breath and urban rhythm," and "advocating an active natural lifestyle."

Together we build this narrative of enjoying the freedom of running around the city in the autumn and winter to explore the urban followed by a relaxing break enjoying a cup of coffee.


For this event hummel and abcPlayer have co-branded a special coffee product aptly named "The Smallest Unit of Freedom" (自由的最小单位). This branding move addresses the initial question posed at the beginning of the article — what does sports have to do with coffee? The answer is encapsulated in the concept of freedom. The cleverly chosen product's name emphasize the intrinsic connection between self-discipline, freedom, and the invigorating energy derived from both coffee and exercise.

hummel and ABCPlayer coffee collab product

The connection between self-discipline, freedom, and coffee is straightforward. Discipline leads to freedom, and coffee symbolizes the smallest unit of that freedom. Both coffee and exercise provide essential energy in life, and their combination intertwines with endless dreams. In practical terms, if the current moment is a result of the past, then the choices we make now shape the future. hummel, in launching a winter city jog, actively contributes to this future, connecting the city with nature. Their philosophy emphasizes, "Future is what we do now." On the other hand, abcPlayer draws inspiration from the high-energy nature of winter sports. Through meticulous preparation, they aim to provide you with the energy and freedom you need every time you exercise this winter.


Now start to RUN, Play hard, Slay hard!

The city run event became a crucial platform to bridge the worlds of coffee and sportswear, ensuring that the audience not only grasped but also embraced fusion. The event unfolded on December 9, 2023. Leading up to the event, people could sign up for the event, and fans would randomly be selected to participate in the run. The random selection process, not only heightened anticipation but strategically transformed participation into an exclusive and sought-after experience, creating a buzz that resonated far beyond the event itself.

Group of young chinese people posing with signs

Aptly named "Now start to RUN, Play hard, Slay hard!", the event wasn't just a run; it was a carefully curated blend of sportswear and coffee culture, strategically crafted to captivate potential customers. More than just covering kilometers, the event aimed at delivering a holistic experience, blending the energy and enthusiasm for both coffee and sportswear. Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs), who were invited to the event, played a vital role in amplifying the buzz, sharing their firsthand experiences across various platforms and creating a viral effect in the digital space.


The run, starting and concluding at abcPlayer Coffee shop, weaved through iconic Shanghai, offering participants a scenic and invigorating journey through the city. The event's success lay not only in the distance covered or the coffee consumed but in the seamless fusion of sports and coffee culture, creating an unforgettable experience for participants. This collaboration transcended beyond mere products, evolving into a shared moment that resonated with the urban youth. The collaboration garnered significant online attention, driven by posts from the participating KOLs. Our efforts at LEAF Digital paid off - with 138K+ impressions and 4.9K+ engagements, the event showcased how collaboration with local partners can effectively elevate the marketing efforts of foreign brands like hummel in the dynamic Chinese market.

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