Saturday, August 23, 2008

2008 Beijing Olympics: Lebron James Marketing Push

One of my favorite things during the Olympics happens after all of the competitions are over. Everyday at about 9pm Beijing time, there is a daily variety show called "Champion's Circle" hosted on CCTV5 aka the CCTV Olympics channel.

On this show, the host invites numerous Chinese gold medal winners or famous athletes & coaches onto the show. Just about every gold-winning Chinese athlete has been on. They have an intimate interview with jokes, personal questions and serious questions. These include feelings about winning the gold, their personal story for how they got to this point. Other discussion topics include different cute or unique habits and other friendly and humors content for the studio audience. Before each guest leaves, they leave their handprint in a mold with their signature and date onto the "wall of fame".

In the background is a huge circular LCD screen showing graphics and videos while background "variety" music accompany the interviews. Between segments there are dancers who entertain the crowd.

On the night of August 22nd, after an joint appearance of 4 members of the Chinese Men's national basketball team - that included Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian, a surprise guest showed up on the show.

It was Lebron James.

Earlier in the day, Lebron and Yao Ming had made a joint appearnce at a event bringing together athletes from different countries to promote cross cultural understanding. The was Lebron's second stop.

Joking around with the host through a translator, Lebron James was interviewed for about 10 minutes with a huge mural of him dunking in the background LCD.

Questions posed included.... what did you think of the opening ceremony? Why didn’t you take up ping pong instead? Which color medal do you like better, silver or bronze? Lebron kept his cool and even made a few jokes himself.

At the end, Lebron James signed a basketball and gave it to the youngest kid in the audience so that the kid can forever love the game of basketball.

As Lebron James left, he was given a framed photo of himself as a gift. He then also made a hand print and hung it on the wall of champions.

I personally love Lebron James. He’s one of the best basketball players in the world, has a great personality and is a huge fan of Ohio State (probably the college he would’ve attended if he didn’t go to the NBA directly) which is my favorite too.

As a person who is establishing himself as a international icon and brand, Lebron James had the 2nd highest gross income for an athlete in 2007 (Tiger Woods was first). His marketing presence in China, a country where basketball is the most popular sport – and everyone loves the NBA is a great idea. Even though this show is produced in what Americans would consider a “variety show” format with cheesy music and sometimes even cheesier jokes, it is watched by millions and millions of Chinese viewers.

Lebron James is not only taking advantage of his opportunity to participate in the Beijing Olympics to the fullest (by appearing in events like this), his Cleveland Cavs also came last year for the first preseason NBA games ever in China – held in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Macau.

While his Nike posters in China are not as big as the one in Cleveland, or his fame in China isn’t as big as Yao Ming or Kobe Bryant (who has a huge following), Lebron James will have a great future in the China market.

1 comment:

Latisha said...

Interesting to know.