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An Olympic buzz for Li Ning

Scott Tong Aug 12, 2008
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An Olympic buzz for Li Ning

Scott Tong Aug 12, 2008
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Scott Jagow: The Olympics have become so tangled up with corporate marketing, it’s kind of unbelievable. American companies — and international ones — are on the edge of their seat, waiting to call the next likeable gold medalist for an endorsement contract. But this year, it’s a Chinese company that’s first on the scene. From Beijing, Scott Tong reports.


Scott Tong: Sneaker company Li Ning is not an official Olympic sponsor. But it’s riding the buzz just fine.

Li Ning outfits many Chinese athletes — so when the gymnastics and diving teams won gold, company TV spots hit the air in China immediately. And it got massive free global PR Friday, when the company’s founder lit the Olympic flame before a global audience.

Jonathan Chajet of the consultancy Interbrands says Li Ning is making a statement.

Jonathan Chajet: They are playing on the same level as anybody else around the world, any of the big guys — Adidas, Nike, Reebok, they’re there now, certainly with the Chinese consumer. So that gives Li Ning the potential to charge more money.

In the first two days of the games, Li Ning’s stock jumped 7 percent. But the key is to sustain Olympic momentum. Marketing experts say Li Ning needs to overcome the image of a poor man’s Nike.

In Beijing, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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