Reebok hires Mediaedge as it launches China push

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[Shanghai, China] Reebok, a latecomer to China's growing sportswear industry trying to build its brand there before the Beijing 2008 Olympics, awarded its media planning and implementation business in China to WPP Group's Mediaedge:cia, Shanghai. Billings were not disclosed, but Reebok is embarking on a major marketing campaign in China for three of its brands-Classic, RbK and Vector.

MEC's appointment came right after Reebok broke its largest branding effort in almost a decade, a $50 million global campaign by McGarry Bowen, New York, featuring a mix of Reebok's athlete endorsers, musicians and actors. In China, Reebok has just restructured its business, forming a joint venture between Reebok International and local shareholders. Previously, Reebok operated on the mainland through Swire Group, a Hong Kong-based conglomerate that used Omnicom Group's OMD to buy media in Hong Kong and China. Reebok started focusing more on China in late 2003 after signing a sponsorship deal with Yao Ming.

The company hopes the basketball superstar's popularity will open up marketing opportunities in China and the rest of Asia. However, Reebok trails Nike, Adidas and local rival Li-Ning in sales and market share in China. In January, Adidas was chosen as the official sportswear partner of the Beijing Olympics, and Li-Ning signed a strategic marketing agreement with the National Basketball Association.

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