Chinese shoe maker sponsors US Ping Pong Team

Posted by: Frederik Balfour on March 06, 2008

Talk about putting a new twist on ping-pong diplomacy. Chinese sports apparel and shoemaker Li-Ning has agreed to sponsor the US National Table Tennis Team for the next five years. That means American players will be dressed in Chinese-made sports garb at this year’s Beijing Summer Olympics. This is definitely a first. Never before has a Chinese company sponsored a U.S. national sports team.

Li-Ning’s eponymous founder was himself an Olympic Gold Medalist in gymnastics, and understands the power of sport in brand building. But unlike its rival Adidas-Salomon, which is spending close to $100 million on marketing tied to its sponsorship of the Olympics, Li-Ning has opted to focus on individual team sponsorship instead—saving a huge amount of money in the process. However should the US team win a medal in this summer’s games, the players better be ready to make a quick costume change before the awards ceremony. As part of Adidas’s deal with the Beijing Olympics Committee, all athletes who mount the podium to receive medals will be dressed in Adidas gear from head to toe. The same goes for athletes sponsored by Nike [which is also not an official games sponsor] such as Chinese Olympic hurdler and Athens gold medalist Liu Xiang.

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Reader Comments

Steven

March 7, 2008 12:53 PM

Anyone will notice US Ping Pong Team? That's a game dominated by Chinese.

blue

March 10, 2008 05:25 AM

Dominate? that's a too strong word, Chinese people are just good at Pingpong

Steven

March 10, 2008 11:58 AM

Dominate, of course. Chinese usually get all gold medals in world-wide contests.

Chinese won 32 golds, can you say CHinese only good in Pingpong?

Thomas Crampton

March 10, 2008 01:03 PM

Who is sponsoring shoes for the Jamaican bobsled team?

HC

March 11, 2008 06:19 PM

Is the BusinessWeek IT department ever going to fix this bug that lists comments on the right side many times? For an international publication like BW to have a glaring defect on its website for months, it is disgraceful.

marc

March 18, 2008 03:28 AM

I wonder if this is their attempt to get international publicity to expand their line of shoes, or just their publicity for the internal Chinese market?

If it's the first one, then they will waste a lot of money. Not only cause ping-pong just isn't as popular abroad, but also cause their logo ressembles that of Nike far too much. Americans just would never go for that. However, I think this is more of a marketing strategy for the Chinese market. The fact that "foreigners" are wearing their gear, in a sport that is very closely followed by the chinese media, the effects could be HUUUGE...

smart move

Bud

August 18, 2008 05:02 PM

Also....Most of the U.S. team members are originally chinese nationals that have immigrated here so they can get a chance to compete. (Ditto for other countries too.)

Braden Keane Nading

June 13, 2009 01:54 PM

Hi my name is Braden Nading and I love Ping-pong it runs in my familys blood well around the 28th of march I turned 21 and I decided to go to the bars. To hit the night life scene to do a little livin. Well while I was there at the ballyhoo in Terre Haute Indiana they had a ping-pong tournament and I decided to enter it. Well come to find out it was a big tourney sponsored by Anheuser-Busch with is the Bud Light company. Well anyways to make a long story short I won at the bar in Terre Haute and now I get to play in Las Vegas for a 100,000 dollars its going to be on TV in September. I was wondering if you guys could sponsor me in the tournament I have a coach for ping-pong and everything. The Tourney in Las Vegas is June 26 2009 to the 28 of June. if you are interested you can caught me on my cell number which is (812) 592-8617 or my email address at bnading@indstate.edu or even my street address at 1454 South 7th Street, Terre Haute IN 47802. I would like to use your tademark in the tourney.

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BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.

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