Following in the footsteps of former teammate Damon Jones (naturally), NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal has signed an endorsement deal with Chinese sports shoes and apparel company Li Ning. Is this a sign that Chinese brands have hit the big time? Or is this a sign that Shaq’s career is nearing its end? Maybe a combination of both?
Most news reports we saw on this didn’t stray too far from the company issued press release:
According to the five-year agreement, the Group and Shaquille O’Neal will jointly develop the LI-NING – SHAQ Series, a professional basketball product line, of which the professional endorsements of Shaquille O’Neal, including his image, name, jersey with his number and signature, will be widely applied in the product line. Products will be sold in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and the PRC.
Subsequent to entering into an agreement with NBA, the world’s top basketball league, in January 2005 as NBA’s official marketing partner, as well as the agreement with Damon Jones, another well-known NBA player, the co-brand collaboration with Shaquille O’Neal’s SHAQ brand not only pioneered, but also signified an important breakthrough in the sales and marketing of sports brand in China.
What jumped out at us even more than someone calling Damon Jones “well-known” was this: “Products will be sold in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and the PRC.” Does this mean that Shaq will wear shoes that can’t be purchased in the United States? If true, that’s kind of historic, no? Of course, nowhere in the release did they actually say Shaq would wear these products, but we have to assume that he would. ESPN.com said Shaq noticed Damon Jones’ Li Ning shoes and thought they were “unique and trendy” and they appealed to him.
At least one blog has brought up a “racial taunt” that Shaq aimed at Yao Ming early in Yao’s career. In light of this, they found Shaq’s signing with Li Ning “highly ironic.” Meh.
Terms of the deal weren’t made public, but China Daily is reporting that “insiders said the value of the contract is said to be at least 10 million yuan (US$1.25 million).” Doesn’t that seem awfully low?
Shaq is in China now. He’s already been to Beijing and at some point he will visit Chengdu and Shanghai. We’re not sure when.
Oddly, we have found very little image-wise online (English or Chinese web) regarding Shaq’s China visit. Nothing from the Li Ning press conference, nothing that shows what the shoes will look like. Nothing … except for the excellent shot that accompanies this post.
Also on Shanghaiist:
Ever heard of Damon Jones? Didn’t think so
Image of Shaq in Beijing from QQ.com.