NBA uses Chinese talent in Asian marketing

LOS ANGELES: Capitalizing on growing Asian-American market interest in the NBA's three Chinese players, the league has launched a new campaign targeting that niche demographic.

LOS ANGELES: Capitalizing on growing Asian-American market interest in the NBA's three Chinese players, the league has launched a new campaign targeting that niche demographic.

Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets, Wang Zhizhi of the Los Angeles Clippers, and Mengke Bateer of the Toronto Raptors are now superstars in Asian-American communities, and especially within the Chinese-American community. Their popularity has sparked a "dramatic surge in interest and attendance to NBA games," said Saul Gitlin, EVP of strategic services at Kang & Lee Advertising, which is handling the campaign's PR and media relations.

"This is a community that is intensely passionate about basketball, and it has been spurred even further by these star players," said Gitlin. "They have riveted the attention of China, and that has carried to the Chinese-American population."

Asian-market efforts began with a 12-page supplement that ran last week in the two most popular Chinese publications: The World Journal and Sing Tao Daily newspapers in New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Dallas. Because the Chinese demographic is concentrated in those markets, the supplement is expected to reach more than 70% of the US' 2.4 million Chinese residents.

Gitlin said future aspects of the campaign, which are still being planned, may include special events and other community outreach. Another supplement is also planned around the All-Star game.

"Last season, more than 15 NBA teams incorporated Asian-American marketing efforts in their overall marketing plans," said Andrew Messick, SVP, International at the NBA. "With the emergence and the growing popularity of Asian players and the ever-changing demographics of the US, the NBA's marketing efforts to reach the Asian-American community will continue to grow."

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