SBD/June 7, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

French Open Victory Boosts Li Na's Endorsement Possibilities

Li Na's sponsorship roster includes Nike, Rolex, Haagen-Dazs and SpiderTech
Sports business analysts have interpreted Li Na's French Open victory “as a potential watershed moment for the growth of tennis in China in general as well as a launching pad for her own endorsement possibilities,” according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. It also could give Nike a "boost in China where the Oregon sports and apparel company has targeted for growth.” Nike on Sunday “capitalized on its tennis star's success by giving away a free Li Na ‘Use Sport to Change Everything -- JUST DO IT’ posters at over 50 Nike stores in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.” Brettman noted Li after losing in the Australian Open finals in January “signed endorsement deals with watch brand Rolex, ice-cream maker Haagen-Dazs and medical tape developer SpiderTech.” IMG’s Max Eisenbud, Li’s agent, said that “conversations for more endorsements were underway before” Li’s win on Saturday. And the “talks are heating up this week” (OREGONLIVE.com, 6/6). In Sydney, Valkerie Baynes noted as China's first grand slam singles champion, Li "will be a big name in the world's most populous nation for some time.” Nike “printed up just 30 special edition T-shirts with ‘Be Yourself’ written in Chinese on the front next to an Eiffel Tower.” Li said, "I think now they should make more because a lot of fans were asking where they have the T-shirt" (Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH, 6/6).

CHINESE AMBASSADOR: Bloomberg TV’s Michele Steele noted Li “becomes an even more attractive target for sponsors and advertisers who are hoping to market, not just sports equipment to China, but luxury goods in that country where tennis is considered an aspirational sport.” In addition to Li's current sponsors, Eisenbud is “in conversations with about five or six other companies seeking to endorse her” (“In The Loop,” Bloomberg TV, 6/6). CNBC’s Darren Rovell noted 113 million people "watched in her native China on television, and the marketing opportunities are obviously endless, given the country’s size and growth.” Eisenbud said, “It was a really huge shot in the arm for women’s tennis.” He added, “You’re going to see a lot of blue chip brands really want to work with Li Na and really help bolster their position in China” (“Street Signs,” CNBC, 6/6).
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