Amid controversy, NBA looks for exec to lead Chinese integrated marketing campaigns

The new hire would work closely with Chinese marketing partners.

NBA star Donovan Mitchell in Shenyang, China, in July (Photo credit: Getty Images_
NBA star Donovan Mitchell in Shenyang, China, in July (Photo credit: Getty Images_

SHANGHAI: The NBA is looking for a marketing professional to manage integrated media campaigns in China, where the league is at odds with authorities over a tweet from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. 

An ad, which appeared on Monday on communications and public affairs job site Daybook.com and is also listed on the NBA’s career site, said the league is planning to hire an account management team leader based in Shanghai. 

The hire would manage marketing partnership account teams; work with partners on integrated marketing campaigns; ensure that contracts with those partners are fulfilled at NBA events; support partners' brand objectives; document and analyze activations; and support senior management with strategic analysis.

The NBA is planning to make the hire amid a controversy over Morey’s tweets showing support for protesters in Hong Kong. Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta quickly disavowed Morey’s tweet and former Rockets player and current head of the Chinese Basketball Association Yao Ming called the tweet "an inappropriate comment related to Hong Kong." 

The Chinese Basketball Association subsequently suspended its "exchanges and cooperation" with the Rockets, and state media and Tencent halted the broadcast of NBA preseason games in China.

Morey deleted the tweet and apologized. On Sunday, the NBA released a statement expressing the league’s respect for Chinese culture and support for league members with views on "matters important to them."

However, the fallout intensified in the U.S., with commentary from sources as varied as The New York Times, Rolling Stone and National Review, pointing out the league’s reputation for embracing free speech and activism and its reaction to Chinese censorship. 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver penned a second statement on Tuesday addressed to people who he said may be "angered, confused or unclear on who we are or what the NBA stands for" after reading the league’s initial statement. He said it isn’t the league’s place to intervene in international disputes, but that it wouldn’t regulate employees’ speech. 

However, Chinese-run state TV network CCTV issued a statement in response saying it is "strongly dissatisfied and we oppose Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right of free expression." 

"We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech," it said. 

NBA representatives did not return calls seeking comment on the job opening.

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