Sports Marketing Moves To China

09/27/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • NY Times

BEIJING -- At times during the Olympics, athletes like Dwyane Wade and Serena Williams seemed to be working as hard off the court as on they were on the court.

Venus Williams, left, and her sister Serena at the awards ceremony for women's doubles tennis on Aug. 17 in Beijing. Serena Williams later spoke to a Chinese paper about her marketing deals.

Mr. Wade, a star player for the Miami Heat, and Ms. Williams, the tennis sensation, courted the Chinese media, chatted online with Chinese sports fans, and strategized with their agents about how to tap into the rising Chinese market.

"It's something we talked about in anticipation of his coming here for the Olympics," said Henry Thomas, Mr. Wade's agent. "We talked about what we could do to raise his profile here." Mr. Thomas was in town, wining and dining sponsors.

While the world is tallying the benefits, political and economic, that China will reap from hosting nearly perfect Olympic Games, the star athletes who competed here are making their bids to cash in on this country's boom in sports marketing and sponsorship deals.

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