The Brooklyn Nets and two Chinese companies are looking to build their brands globally with a recent deal.
The National Basketball Association team has announced sponsorship alliances with ANTA, a Chinese athletic-footwear company, and Lava Tech, a digital-products distributor in Beijing.
"Our goal is to be a global team, and in order to be global, you need to be relevant in China," said Brett Yormark, CEO of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center. "These partnerships help fulfill that objective."
Through the sponsorship, both ANTA and Lava Tech will get courtside electronic signage visible on television during the Nets' home games at Barclays Center in New York this season.
The agreements with ANTA and Lava were finalized during the team's visit to China last month, when the Nets played in Shanghai and Beijing in the NBA Global Games. Yormark said the deal will help both companies build their brands as many Nets games will be aired on TV and major Internet portals.
"As we saw with their recent participation in the NBA Global Games, the Brooklyn Nets are enormously popular in China," said ANTA Sports Chairman and CEO Ding Shizhong in the statement. "This partnership will allow us to continue elevating our brand awareness and to further basketball's growth in China."
ANTA, based in East China's Fujian province, signed Nets player Kevin Garnett for endorsements in August 2010. Garnett introduced the Nets to ANTA last year, and both sides have been working on the new deal since August 2013, said Yormark. Lava's deal was facilitated by Womei Media, a Chinese advertising agency.
"Lava is a brand that's looking to further develop their image and profile not only in China but also in the US," Yormark said.
The Nets, worth $780 million, are the fifth most valuable team in the NBA, according to Forbes magazine's rankings. Yormark declined to disclose the specific dollar value of ANTA and Lava's sponsorships, but said it would take a mid-six-digit number in US dollars annually to become a Nets' partner.
The NBA has become an important global marketing field, said J. Ronald Oswalt, CEO of Sports Marketing Experts, a consultancy.
In October, ANTA became an official marketing and merchandising partner of NBA China, which allows it to produce a series of products co-branded with the NBA. Besides Garnett, the company is also sponsoring another three NBA players: Houston Rockets' Chandler Parsons, the Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo and the Indiana Pacers' Luis Scola.
Chinese computer maker Lenovo and telecom-equipment manufacturer ZTE; athletic footwear-makers Peak Sport Products and Li Ning; and dairy products company Mengniu all are in partnerships with the NBA.
"Sports are played all over the world," Oswalt said. "It's everywhere. What's going to happen is that ordinary people are going to mimic these athletes. The reach is everywhere."
Oswalt cautioned that brands should seek a wider audience by, for example, turning to bloggers and marketing specialists for help. "They (Chinese sports-utility manufacturers) are not doing a great job," said Oswalt. "The culture is different. Nike and Adidas are already established, and it would take them a while to fully break in this market."