Multilingual Ads in Sports

13 Dec Multilingual Ads in Sports

I rarely watch sports on TV, but awhile back I meandered into the living room while an NBA game was on and I did a double-take. I saw a large, bold, red and white advertisement in Chinese on the basketball post. I asked myself, when did this start? And are there really that many viewers in the U.S. who read Chinese?

Then I did a little research. Turns out, the Chinese ads aren’t for the U.S. market at all. The NBA is huge in China, and has been for quite some time, thanks to the foresight and keen strategy of NBA commissioner David Stern.

According to a Wired article, the key to the NBA’s success was giving away their product for free for the first two years, something that other tech companies are starting to emulate in China. This strategy made the NBA one of the first American media companies to start broadcasting on Chinese television. The NBA is now an exporter on the level of Disney and Apple, with over 31 million followers on China’s version of Twitter.

In 2015, NBA teams began honoring the Chinese New Year with special edition jerseys, citing in a ChinaDaily article that, “Connecting with our Asian community is a priority for our organization.”

Multilingual advertising isn’t only happening in the NBA. A few weeks ago (again while passing through the living room), I saw similar Asian adverts on Skate America, an international skating competition. I’m sure this is just a taste of what we’ll see in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.