SBD/August 3, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Li Na's Popularity In China Poised To Make Her Top Earning Female In Sports

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Li Na has signed at least $42M worth of sponsorship deals this year
Tennis player Li Na is “poised to become the richest woman in sport as companies fight to cash in on her enormous popularity in China,” according to Malcolm Moore of the London TELEGRAPH. Li has signed “at least $42 million of sponsorship deals this year with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Rolex and Haagen Dazs, who believe that she may be the key to the lucrative Chinese market.” Her agent, Max Eisenbud, said it was "hard to set a price" after Li became the first Chinese player to win a grand slam tennis tournament, adding, "We had to change it a lot." Li currently is “only out-earned” by tennis player Maria Sharapova. Shanghai-based Zou Marketing Managing Dir Terry Rhoads said, "What a transformation! Two years ago, she could not buy a sponsor. Now she is the only person with a Nike deal who can wear patches from other sponsors on her clothes. They told Nike: if you blink, there are a host of Chinese sports brands ready to pay big money." He added that Li is “in a seller’s market” as international brands “try to chase the Chinese market.” Rhoads: "You have a lot of people searching for someone who has credibility, who can make the needle move and make Chinese stop and think. And Li Na has separated herself from the pack" (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 8/2).
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