Arun Sudhaman 26 Jun 2012 // 11:00PM GMT
BEIJING--Chinese sports brand Li-Ning has called in PR firm Fleishman-Hillard to help support its global expansion.
Fleishman-Hillard will provide strategic counsel to Li-Ning for its corporate, brand and digital communications, as well as its upcoming campaigns tied to the 2012 Olympic Games.
Founded by Chinese Olympic gymnast Li Ning, the company is viewed as one of a handful of a Chinese consumer brands with credible global aspirations. Li-Ning opened in the US in 2007, and has also inked deals with the NBA and several US basketball stars as it attempts to crack the American market.
Last year, Li-Ning formed a joint venture with digital marketing firm Acquity Group to establish an e-commerce site focused on the US, backed by a five-year, $100m global marketing budget. In addition, the Chinese brand is hoping that the London 2012 Olympics, in which it sponsors numerous athletes and teams, will provide a significant boost in visibility.
A flawed brand relaunch has also seen Li-Ning lose ground in its home market, where it continues to trail Nike and faces tough competition from Adidas and local rival Anta. International sales currently account for less than five percent of its reported revenue of $1.4bn in 2011, which was down almost six percent compared to 2010.
"Major players such as Li-Ning require campaigns that offer meaningful messages while providing customers with compelling offers and rewards, particularly in a world where people are constantly connected via ubiquitous mobile devices," said Fleishman-Hillard China president Li Hong.
Li-Ning previously handed its global PR business to Ruder Finn in 2006. In the US, the company has also worked with Walker Sands Communications.
Li-Ning also manages a portfolio of other major local and foreign sports brands, such as Aigle, Double Happiness, Lotto, and Kason.