Product / ServiceLI-NING WAY OF WADE
CategoryA05. Best Launch or Re-Launch
Entrant Company FLEISHMAN-HILLARD Beijing, CHINA

The Campaign

The euphoria that greeted the Beijing Olympics was unsurpassed in the modern version the games. However, by 2011 the level of attention and interest in a broad range of sports had steadily eroded. For LI-NING this culminated in its first dip in its annual profit since its founding over twenty years before. LI-NING realized it needed to revitalize its brand image and capture people’s imagination in the same way it had done in 2008. Although Basketball had played a major part in LI-NINGs product line, it too had suffered from the decline in enthusiasm that greeted the post Olympics China. Nonetheless, there was still incredible market opportunities, subsequently LI-NING decided to refocus its core brand image to develop a more intrinsic bond with basketball. Star power is perhaps the most seductive force for brand sponsorship in China. Knowing this, LI-NING decided to sign basketball star Dwayne Wade to support its new business focus. The contract made between LI-NING and Dwayne Wade signified that LI-NING had returned to the basketball market in full force. It was not simply Wade’s endorsement of LI-NING’s basketball product line but Wade’s in-depth participation in LI-NING’s product development & marketing, as Chief Brand Officer of LI-NING’s ‘Way of Wade’. The debut of the first LI-NING Wade basketball shoe required a stunning spectacle to connect with basketball fans and sports lovers. Deep integration and communication with popular media channels helped set the stage for LI-NING to penetrate the market and grab the attention of prospective consumers.

The Brief

Working closely with LI-NING we set out three broad objectives that would ensure a highly successful event, and subsequently campaign. Firstly was to clearly communicate a strong message that LI-NING was returning to the basketball market. Alongside this, it was important to also ensure that there was a transparent narrative outlining why LI-NING was doing this, essentially making it explicit as to the driving force in their new brand positioning. All of this would feed into a stunning debut for LI-NING’s first Wade basketball shoes.


Our campaign would not only be judge on how extensively our launch was covered but also how well we were able to develop and continue momentum. To this end, alongside LI-NING, we were able to generate interest from 6 television media and over195 print media – this covered our campaign in various ways but to a PR value of more than 50.45 million Yuan. Furthermore, because of our clearly defined strategy our PR value for online media reached 10.24 million yuan, and the media value of the micro blog platform exceeded 200 million yuan. Looking at lasting impact of our campaign, and how successfully this leverage the star power of Dwayne Wade, between September 2012 and May 2013, the Baidu index for “Way of Wade” rose by more than 120 percent.


Our execution took in a multi-phased approach, ensuring that we were able to develop a strong sense of momentum. This was: Pre-event  Disclosed the number 10.10 on Wade’s Twitter and personal Sina Weibo micro blogs to continue the Heat topic and generate further interest the day of the contract signing conference. Contract signing conference  Mr. Li Ning and Wade had such a common affinity for basketball that when they met at the conference site Wade was moved to tears, creating another hot topic.  Unveiled the name of the first LI-NING Wade series: Way of Wade Continued campaign  During the 2013 All-Stars NBA Weekend, the LI-NING “Way of Wade” All-Stars special edition release party was held, and the LI-NING “Way of Wade” basketball shoes that were available onsite sold out within an hour, becoming a hotly discussed topic among fans

The Situation

LI-NING had gradually seen a slow-down in its revenue as the Chinese public became ambivalent to many sports in the post-Olympics hangover. By 2011 the company had experienced its first annual dip in profits underlining the gradual disappearance of sports from the public eye. In order to change the game, LI-NING signed Dwayne Wade, and he became the symbol of LI-NING Company's decision to focus on the basketball market. This decision was reinforced by the company’s new role as an official strategic partner of the Chinese Basketball Association. All of this helped LI-NING to better prepare for international market penetration.

The Strategy

Content • Focus on the dissemination of the differences between Wade’s endorsement and other NBA stars’ • Leverage the hot issue of Wade's participation in China’s NBA games with the Heat, helping to strengthen the cooperation between LI-NING and Wade as the starting point of a new phase in Wade’s career. • Emphasize Wade’s permanent imprint on the design of the first LI-NING Wade basketball shoes to strengthen the bond with Wade’s fans. Approach • Develop a deep integration of television, print media, and online media to create a full-range, multi-angle and three-dimensional publicity push. • Communication with important media for in-depth publicity that influences consumers. • Fully integrate the Twitter/micro blogs/online video platform matrix for consumer penetration.


Name Company Position
Echo Chen Fleishmanhillard Beijing Office Account Director
Summer Wu Fleishmanhillard Beijing Office Account Executive
Serena Wang Fleishmanhillard Beijing Office Account Executive
Seven Zhang Fleishmanhillard Beijing Office Senior Account Executive
Oliver Cao Fleishmanhillard Beijing Office Account Manager
Sun Jun Fleishmanhillard Beijing Office Account Director
Jerry Zou Fleishmanhillard Senior Vice President/Parter/China
Li Hong Fleishmanhillard President/Sr. Partner/China