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SBD/October 11, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship
Li-Ning To Use Wade Deal To Gain Foothold In U.S. Market, Abroad
Published October 11, 2012
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ODE TO LIFE: In Miami, Joseph Goodman notes Wade’s first design “is an ode to his life.” The soles of the shoes “feature initials of Wade’s loved ones, including his girlfriend, actress Gabrielle Union.” There also is a “Bible verse written into the shoes, which is a nod to Wade’s mother.” Goodman writes like “any American businessman venturing into China, Wade is taking a risk.” Li-Ning is “an enormous company, but its profit share in the basketball footwear market has diminished considerably in the past year.” With "shrinking shoe profits in the Chinese basketball market, Li-Ning is hoping Wade and his international popularity can resuscitate its image.” The company in the U.S. “has no image and it’s investing in Wade to possibly give it one.” Li-Nings “aren’t cool in the United States, but they’re also not uncool.” Wade was “given creative control of his new shoes, something Jordan Brand was never willing to completely hand over, and he’s hoping his designs will help carve out a space in the U.S. market” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/11).
STARTING A TREND? BDA Sports Management COO Bill Sanders wrote Wade’s signing is “clearly something more significant than any of the previous defections to the Great Wall.” Nike remains the “market share 800-pound gorilla,” but this signing is “more than an anomaly.” It signals “two key issues worth taking note of.” The first is that China “is for real" and the second is that Li-Ning “is for real.” Just a “few years back, many Chinese shoe companies would sign NBA stars and hope for the best.” Li-Ning’s signing of Wade “signals a quantum leap in their commitment to, and understanding of, the power of aligning with an NBA superstar.” Sanders: “This wasn’t about the money. This was about Wade’s commitment to China, and to helping a new partner move the needle” (ATHLETEMARKETINGGUY.com, 10/10).