Business Case Studies, Marketing Strategies / Strategic Marketing Case Study, Yao Ming, Marketers' Open Sesame to China

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Case Title:

Yao Ming: Marketers' Open Sesame to China

Publication Year : 2004

Authors: kalyani Vemuri & T Phani Madhav

Industry: Sports and Sports Related


Case Code: MKS0018

Teaching Note:  Not Available

Structured Assignment:  Not Available

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In 2002, the National Basketball Association (NBA) drafted Yao Ming, the 7ft 6in basketball player from China. Yao is believed to have immense potential as a brand ambassador for multinational corporations keen on China. The NBA, which is keen on strengthening its presence in China, feels that having a talented Chinese player like Yao in the league would generate more popularity for the game in China. Yao, who was voted as the most popular celebrity in China in 2003, is also a cultural icon for Chinese youths. Companies like Pepsi, McDonald's and Reebok have signed Yao as their brand ambassador and hope to gain a market share in China by promoting their association with Yao.

Pedagogical Objectives:

  • To discuss the rise of Yao Ming as one of the most promising basketball stars of the NBA
  • To discuss the efforts of 'team Yao' to create a well-crafted and researched plan to market Yao's appeal
  • To discuss the risk and return factors for brands that associate themselves with
  • To discuss the critical factors for Yao's continued success as a marketable force.

Keywords : Yao Ming, National Basketball Association, Marketing to China, Houston Rockets, Marketing Strategies Case Study, Reebok, Team Yao, Chinese youth icon, Popularity of basketball in China, David Stern


  • Introduction
  • Yao's discovery
  • Yao NBA's passport to China
  • The marketing potential of Yao Ming

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