Asia receives more and more recognition as a very important marketplace for sports and corporations, which utilize sports as a ‘marketing vehicle’. Globalization efforts of the biggest football (soccer) clubs in World have pointed towards Asia. The biggest American leagues, e.g. the NBA, have done the same. The trend seems to be the same when focus is on individual-based sports and their personal brands, e.g. golf or tennis.
14-year-old Guan Tianlang from China seems to be the new ‘hot shot’ in golf. At least, he is a focal point of corporations trying to draw on the hype associated with a very young Chinese boy full of potential, who wins access to major golf tournaments worldwide. An essential aspect in that equation may be the fact that he is from China and thus represents an ‘access point’ to valuable market space in Asia.
Chinese tennis star Li Na is another example of an athlete, who draws attention of major sponsors. She has been very important in terms of growing the interest for the game in China and the other day WTA boss Stacey Allaster added to this by stating that “she is the most important player of the decade for me”. As the first Asian to win a grand slam title, Li Na has proved that she means it seriously when corporations find it to be commercially beneficial to link up with her. Today, there are many tennis players in Asia and a huge fan base with ‘heavy’ consumption patterns. Allaster also stated that “tennis in the Asian-Pacific region has a lot of growth potential”. Therefore, players like Li Na are crucial in terms of taking the sport to the next level.