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Marketer: Li-Ning

Agency: Leo Burnett, Beijing

Chinese sportswear brand flaunts global ambition against African backdrop

[Beijing] China's leading sportswear brand Li-Ning is trying to create the allure of an international brand with a TV campaign filmed in Africa by Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett Worldwide. The company hopes a foreign setting will give the brand's long-running "Anything is possible" marketing platform a more international flair that will appeal to modern, style-conscious young adults in China.

The ad's cheerful storyline follows a Chinese traveler who chances upon a basketball-worshipping African tribe. First seen as an intruder, the Chinese man is invited to play against the tribesmen. After unexpectedly winning the game, the traveler is welcomed into the tribe not only as a new friend, but as their newly elected chieftain. Scenes of celebration are supported by the tagline, "No matter where you are, if you play well `anything is possible."'

"To the Chinese, Africa is a continent that is particularly unknown, particularly different, one that has an element of mystery, more so than any other," said Luis Da Rosa, business director, Leo Burnett, Beijing. "Filming in Africa was the best place to capture the essence of the [brand's] message." Also, the agency's research demonstrated that Chinese kids believe foreign brands are more hip than local players.

Mainland Chinese consumers, like consumers from most developing countries, share a general perception that multinational brands have better resources, more established R&D and marketing experience, which lead to a better product, said Mr. Da Rosa.

"Local businesses that want to compete on an equal platform with the international players must prove to consumers that they are in the same league," he said. Li-Ning, for instance has a strategic partnership with the NBA and has hired an international team of designers to further its credibility as a global brand.

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