It’s hard to name a global brand that has had smarter China marketing practices than Nike. The series of advertising shorts above, first posted on YouTube two years ago, features everyday Chinese who can’t help but turn their day-to-day lives into athletic showcases. A flat round cracker in a university cafeteria becomes a discus; a pair of boys use a repairman’s bucket as a basketball hoop; a young woman uses judo moves to take down her boyfriend and snatch a bouquet of flowers from him. The commercials have a raw look, like they could have been shot by amateurs. And they will ring true—and funny—to anyone who has spent time in China.
Watching the above clips, it’s hard to imagine how Nike ever made the massive blunder of creating a commercial featuring Lebron James bouncing the ball off of a kung fu master’s forehead. That ad is often cited as an example of what not to do when advertising in China. But Nike learned from its mistake, and does plenty of other things right. Adidas may have Olympic sponsorship rights, but Nike has its swoosh on hurdler Liu Xiang, basketball player Yi Jianlian and several Chinese leagues and sports parks.
For more commentary on sports marketing in China and the Chinese sports scene in general, go to China Sports Today.