Friday, January 21, 2011

Li Ning: an ambush marketing success

In the 2008 Olympics Li Ning, the gymnast on whose name the company Li Ning Company Limited markets its sports products, stole the show in the opening ceremony with a high wire act to light the cauldron and open the Beijing Olympics. Adidas, the official games sponsor and Li Ning's competitor in China, shockingly looked on.
Li Ning, former Olympic gymnast for China flies through the air on his way to lighting the Olympic Flame during the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. C Reuters

Later during the 2010 Asian games the Chinese gymnasts made hand gestures to form the Li Ning logo during the Asian games much to the dismay of 361 degrees, a Chines sports brand, who are the official sponsors of the 2010 Asian Games being held at Guangzhou, China.

Right: Teng and Chinese silver medalist Lu Bo flashed the sign during their medal ceremony, and Japanese bronze medalist Hisashi Mizutori gamely followed suit although he later said he had no idea what it meant.

Several gymnasts put a hand on their chest with thumb up and fingers pointed like a gun during competition and medals ceremonies this week.
"This is a gesture that's required as part of the deal with our sponsor," men's individual all-around gold medalist Teng Haibin said after his win on Monday, explaining that it was meant to resemble Li Ning's "L" shaped logo. Chinese athletes of various sports have been photographed making the gesture for several years.
Li Ning is not an official Asian Games sponsor and such behavior could be considered ambush marketing, which is forbidden at international sporting events such as the Asian Games.
Left - China's Sui Lu (C) stands with her gold medal after the women's balance beam final during artistic gymnastics at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, November 17, 2010. China's Deng Linlin received silver and Uzbekistan's Luiza Galiulina (R) bronze.

For those who dont know about Li Ning Company and the gesture the ads below will be usefull to look at.

Li Ning's logo and tagline also has a close association to that of Nike. It seems the brand started wanting to be a wanna-be but then evolved into a brand itself. Though the philosophy could also have easily emanated from Li Ning's own story of growing out of poverty to become a famous sportsperson and a successful entrepreneur. 

But such a company attitude seems to have helped its marketers find every small opportunity to market itself. Darren Rovel wrote in his Sports Biz column on that Li Ning’s opening ceremony appearance raised the company stock more than 7 percent and the value of Li Ning's personal holdings about $40 million. It all gave Li Ning, which was not an official sponsor, more reason than ever to believe in its slogan: "Anything is possible." Now its up to its consumers to believe in it and its story.

Several gymnasts put a hand on their chest and made the gesture seen above during the competition and medals ceremonies this week. "This is a gesture that's required as part of the deal with our sponsor," men's individual all-around gold medalist Teng Haibin said after his win on Monday, explaining that it was meant to resemble Li Ning's "L'' shaped logo. Chinese athletes of various sports have been photographed making the gesture for several years.



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