All posts by Mark Dreyer

Friday Fun: Myanmar stacks the deck with wildcards

It’s normally Myanmar’s politics that get the international spotlight, but this week it has been their bizarre sporting choices. The new Burmese capital Naypyidaw will host the 27th Southeast Asian Games later this year and, perhaps fittingly, they’ve chosen some new sports. Vovinam, tarungderajat, kempo and chinlone are all on the agenda and if you haven’t heard of them, you’re not alone.

In fact, most of the other nations are pissed.

Charoen Wattanasin, vice president of the Thai National Olympic Committee, complained that regulations allow for eight traditional sports, not the 14 selected by the hosts:

“Nine out of the 14 are martial arts. They are — well, I can’t even remember their names.”

Continue reading Friday Fun: Myanmar stacks the deck with wildcards

Is the end nigh for Li-Ning?

It seems the Li-Ning Tower really is leaning and is in danger of crashing down. The company’s shares have fallen more than 25% since January 21, including a sizeable drop last week after the company announced plans to raise up to HK$1.87 billion by issuing convertible securities. In construction terms, that’s an awful lot of scaffolding.

The news comes just one year after massive investment from TPG and GIC. The company’s press release talked of a deteriorating situation, a build-up of inventory, sales problems, poor productivity and profitability, worrying debt levels and a need to transform the business.

In other words, company fans are already covered.

Continue reading Is the end nigh for Li-Ning?

Revolution in China?

Well, yes, a boxing one…

From my weekly column for the Global Times:

In all the excitement over Li Na’s thrilling run to the Australian Open final last week, another sporting development was largely overlooked – and it could prove to be even more significant for Chinese sport.

Two-time Olympic boxing gold medalist Zou Shiming has turned professional, signing for US promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank group, and will make his pro debut on April 6 in Macao.

Here’s the full piece:

http://services.globaltimes.cn/epaper/2013-01-28/14532.htm

Li Na on course to be world’s highest earning female athlete

Saturday’s Australian Open women’s tennis final will be an all-Nike affair as Li Na faces off against Victoria Azarenka. Nothing particularly unusual there, given that the US sportswear giant also sponsors Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. But Nike won’t quite have it all its own way.

That’s because Li Na has a deal – unique among Nike’s stable of tennis superstars that also includes Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – that allows her to have two other brands on her shirt in addition to the Nike swoosh. Those two? The well-known car company Mercedes-Benz, and the less well-known insurance company Taikang Life.

With Li leading the way, Mercedes has projected that China will be its biggest market by 2015, so paying $4.5 million to get the company’s logo on Li’s right sleeve for three years would seem to be money well spent.

Continue reading Li Na on course to be world’s highest earning female athlete

Why you’re a Man Utd fan (even if you don’t know it)

I wrote last week about why Manchester United almost certainly doesn’t have 108 million fans in China. That’s because the club doesn’t have fans, it has “followers” – exactly the word that made me suspicious in the first place. I might follow people on Twitter or Weibo, but it certainly doesn’t make me a fan.

Not surprisingly, the club is sticking to the script. Man Utd has confirmed to me that the figure was taken from what it calls a “robust survey” commissioned by the club and conducted between June and August 2011 by “leading marketing research agency” Kantarsport.

Leading agency? Well, they are part of WPP, so it figures that they know what they are doing. Robust survey? That’s a matter for debate. The club asked more than 53,000 people in 39 countries – approximately half the number of countries in which United have sponsorship deals, by the way – and came up with a total fanbase of 659 million.

Continue reading Why you’re a Man Utd fan (even if you don’t know it)

Japanese paint? Seriously?

OK so this Manchester United thing is getting a little silly now. The club announced today that they have signed a three-year deal with Japanese paint manufacturer Kansai, who become (drum roll please) United’s first official paint partner. Yes, paint.

I think this quote from Man Utd commercial director Richard Arnold says it all: “Kansai is the perfect company to partner with Manchester United.”

Continue reading Japanese paint? Seriously?

Olympic showdown for Asus and Lenovo?

The IOC says it’s looking for a new sponsor after Taiwanese computer company Acer pulled out as a member of the TOP Olympic sponsorship programme. Asus or Lenovo, anyone?

Gerhard Heiberg, the head of the IOC’s marketing team, said Acer would not necessarily be replaced by another computer company, but you have to think the most obvious replacements are like-for-like ones, with Lenovo and Acer also ticking the Asian box left empty by Acer’s departure.

One reason why that may not happen, though, is a fear of sponsorship overlap, with other companies encroaching on the “computer” category, something that Heiberg added may lead to changes as a result.

Continue reading Olympic showdown for Asus and Lenovo?