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Posted by: Frederik Balfour on August 20, 2008
You have to hand it to Nike for being quick on its feet. Within 24 hours of the heartbreaking departure of Chinese superstar hurdler Liu Xiang on Monday, Nike’s ad team at Wieden + Kennedy came up with a new ad capitalizing on the country’s collective grief and disappointment over Liu’s agonizing withdrawal with an Achilles tendon injury. The ad, which ran in the English version of the China Daily, Titan Sports and several other local dailies, featured a close up of Liu’s face [which is so nicely airbrushed and lit that it reminds me of a painting by Zhang Xiaogang, one of China’s red hot contemporary artists] and the following text:
Love risking your pride.
Love winning it back.
Love giving it everything you’ve got.
Love the glory. Love the pain.
Love sport even when it breaks your heart.
To see the photo for yourselves, click here.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily also ran a full page ad by Nike on the back page. But no Liu. It features US basketballers Kobe Bryant and LeBron James with the tagline: Nothing is More Motivating Than Bronze. Nike just does it again.
For a great snapshot of how many companies Liu Xiang has been pitchman for, click here on the Advertising Age website.
And from my colleague in Beijing, Chi-Chu Tschang, here’s some more interesting background on Liu Xiang on the People’s Daily web site. [It’s in Chinese, so we aren’t giving you the link.] Basically, it says that in Oct. 2007, Ping An Insurance had given Liu Xiang a 100 million RMB [$14.6 million] accidental insurance policy covering him from Nov. 1, 2007 to Oct. 31, 2008. The other members of China’s track & field team were insured for about one tenth of that.The People’s daily reporter called Ping An on Aug. 19 to ask whether it An would honor its insurance policy for Liu Xiang. Ping An sent a statement reprinted by the paper saying that Liu Xiang’s injury does not affect the contract between Ping An and Liu Xiang as well as China’s track & field team. Ping An will continue to support the development of China’s sports industry.
Hmmm. Unfortunately, Ping An failed to answer the reporter’s question. I also wonder who paid the premiums in the first place and who the beneficiary would be. I’m sure the Chinese press will keep digging away and more answers will be forthcoming.
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.