Heat Players And Execs, NBA Look To Expand Brand, Exposure During China Trip
The NBA is “orchestrating its sixth China Games tour to enhance its largest market outside” the U.S. and the Heat and “some of their players hope to cash in on the opportunity as well,” according to a front-page piece by Craig Davis of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The trip coincides with Heat G Dwyane Wade “entering a sneaker deal with Chinese shoemaker Li-Ning.” Heat F Shane Battier, who endorses rival Chinese shoe and apparel brand Peak, said, "There is great potential because people love basketball in China. This is not a false enthusiasm. These people are passionate about the game." Among the planned events is “the first Fan Appreciation Day on Saturday in Shanghai, with Heat players leading a youth fitness clinic.” Battier said it will be "a dog-and-pony show once we get over there." But the Heat players are “prepared to roll with the demands and distractions.” They understand “it's all part of the global business of basketball -- even if business in China can be over the top.” Meanwhile, Heat officials are “coming with an agenda of their own, with meetings planned with a number of potential corporate sponsors.” The franchise already has “a deal with Peak, and in December, it entered into a high-profile partnership with Tsingtao beer.” Heat President of Business Operations Eric Woolworth said, "It's an opportunity for us to bring Chinese companies back to Miami." He added, “I think there are some real opportunities for us to do more." But Woolworth said that this is “foremost the NBA's gig -- they're footing most of the bill for the trip.” The NBA reports that sales of its merchandise in China have “grown 800 percent over the past five years.” Heat F LeBron James' jersey “is the No. 3 best-seller behind Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/10).
SPREADING THE WEALTH: In Miami, Joseph Goodman in a front-page piece notes players such as James, Battier and Wade in between games, practices and league-related appearances “will find time to help market everything from shoes to soda to watches.” Heat Owner Micky Arison “hopes to foster new business relationships this week.” Arison said, “The Heat brand has become a global brand. A trip like this is great for us from a brand-growth standpoint, but not just ... for us -- also for Miami. Our jerseys say Miami, and we represent the city. It’s great international branding to take trips like this both for the team and the city” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/10).
HOPPING ON BOARD: The NBA China Games will feature Heat-Clippers matchups tomorrow at the MasterCard Center in Beijing and Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. They will have support from marketing partners including adidas, China Mobile, Emirates, Dongfeng Fengshen, Gatorade, Harbin Beer, Mengniu, SAP, Sprite, Subway and Visa. The brands are conducting a variety of grassroots events, consumer sweepstakes and media and retail promotions that will allow winning fans to attend the games and bring international exposure to the league. NBA China also will host the first-ever Fan Appreciation Day this year on Saturday at the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai (NBA China).