Technology and consumer electronics channel media were yesterday excluded from a Hisense launch function to announce the signing of Chinese company Hisense as the major sponsor of the Cronulla Sharks, who were dumped last year by LG because of a series of off-field incidents by the club’s players.Staff at public relations Company Greta Donaldson Publicity could not explain why technology media were excluded. A receptionist at the PR Company also said that the only way to contact Donaldson, who was in Sydney for the event, was by “email”. “We are not allowed to give out her mobile [number],” they said.

Donaldson, who has little if any experience in the technology market, was sacked in 2008 by Siemens Home & Office division  after only a month, with senior executives of the company saying at the time that the appointment of Donaldson was a “mistake”.

Donaldson was hired by Hisense last month; prior to that publicity had been done in-house.

The Chinese company, which has not commented about the poor track record of the Cronulla Sharks or the possible negative impact the club could have on its brand, is using the investment to try and position the Hisense brand in New South Wales and Queensland, according to company officials.

For the last year, the NSW Club has been fighting off financial problems after finishing second-last on the ladder season.

During the last three months of the 2009 season, Cronulla lost almost $1 million of sponsorship, including LG, a company that Hisense is attempting to overtake in the Australian market.

At the time, Cronulla had a $9 million debt, prompting NRL chief executive David Gallop to call for urgent talks about how to save the club.

A senior executive for the company who ChannelNews chased down after the event said, “We sponsor the Olympic Park Stadium in Melbourne and this has proved very successful for us. It has helped with retailers and we are now looking for the same success in Sydney and Queensland via the Cronulla Sharks.”

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