SBD/Issue 107/Sports & Society

Sports Marketing, NBA's Growth In China Examined In DVD Set

Basketball Seen As The One American 
Sport That Is Truly Popular In China
Sports marketing in China and the growth of the NBA in China are examined in "On The Frontlines: Doing Business In China," a DVD set produced by The Atlantic magazine, and the Atlantic's James Fallows notes basketball "is the one American sport that's truly popular in China." On The Frontlines' Emily Chang said the NBA's popularity in China is "about more than just" Rockets C Yao Ming, as he "certainly had an impact, but the NBA's success came much earlier due to marketing and luck." Shanghai-based Zou Marketing Managing Dir Terry Rhoads noted China had a "very difficult time understanding the business of marketing, the idea that the customer coming to watch a sporting event was actually that, a customer." Rhoads said he formed his marketing firm at the end of '02 because when he was an exec at Nike, "we saw so many companies ... that sponsored sport (in China) and quickly got frustrated and withdrew." Zou Marketing Senior Consultant Frank Sha said U.S. companies see China "as a big opportunity to grow," but they also "need to have the right expectations on how much to invest." Rhoads: "The genius of Nike is really the way that they get inside the lives of young people and that’s done by engaging in sport." Fallows reports if Zou Marketing is "successful, China will be getting even more American sports." Zou represents Chinese athletes in basketball and tennis, and the firm also is developing a Chinese kicker to possibly become the first China-born player in the NFL. Sha said the strategy Zou provides the NFL is to "build TV awareness" by working with China state broadcaster CCTV and the Shanghai Media Group to have an NFL game broadcast weekly in China ("On The Frontlines: Doing Business In China").

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