SBD/Issue 55/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Starbucks, Rockets' Yao Ming Discuss Brewing A Frappu-China

Rockets C Yao Ming, in Seattle to play the Sonics last Friday, met with Starbucks Chair and Sonics Owner Howard Schultz, and "it's possible" that Yao will endorse Starbucks in China, according to Danny O'Neil of the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, who noted Yao "keeps his fridge stocked with Starbucks bottled frappuccinos." Regarding his first trip to Seattle to play the Sonics, Yao said through his translator, Colin Pine: "I was disappointed. I thought there would be a Starbucks by the bench here." Schultz: "We've known for quite some time about his loyalty and affection for Starbucks. And we're intrigued by the opportunity that may exist with Starbucks in China." O'Neil noted Starbucks has over 100 stores in China (SEATTLE P-I, 11/30). Also in Seattle, Jayda Evans wrote that Yao's marketing team "won't sign him to any endorsement deals until January or February." BDA Sports Dir of Marketing Bill Sanders said, "We're not being proactive at all. We're not in any rush to do anything marketing-wise. But the phones are ringing off the hook and when someone calls, you don't tell them to call back in January or February, but that's when we plan to be proactive" (SEATTLE TIMES, 11/29). In Houston, Fran Blinebury wrote Yao "is quickly becoming the man of the world the NBA envisioned, the ... ambassador who will open the planet's most heavily populated nation to business opportunities that could reap hundreds of millions." The Warriors "drew their largest crowd of the season" against the Rockets November 27, and the team's promotional department "made no secret about who was the focus of its efforts." The Sonics "also saw a spike at the gate" for their game against the Rockets, as the team drew its second sellout of the season (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/1).

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